The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

if he sweats. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. Marjory gave tongue again. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. Marjory." "We aren't in the same house. he was curiously like his brother Joe. Mike was her special ally. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. He was fond of him in the abstract. I bet he does. That's one comfort." she said. In face. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. This year it should be all right. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. "Hullo." was his reference to the sponge incident. "Go on with your breakfast." said Bob loftily. and the missing member of the family appeared. Last year he had been tried once or twice." he said. "sorry I'm late. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. Mrs. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field." The aspersion stung Marjory. "Anyhow. The door opened. His third remark was of a practical nature. "All right. Marjory. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers. His figure was thin and wiry." This was mere stereo." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. you little beast. Jackson intervened. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. He might get his third." Bob was in Donaldson's. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much. "I bet he gets in before you. but preferred him at a distance. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. . anyway. who had shown signs of finishing it."Wrykyn will do him a world of good." she muttered truculently through it. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. He was a sound bat. Bob disdained to reply." "Considering there are eight old colours left." she said.

assisted by the gardener's boy. "I say. the professional." he said. Mike Wryky. put a green baize cloth over that kid. the eldest of the family. suddenly drew a long breath. somebody. "Mike. like Mike. with improvements. sound article. There was nothing the matter with Bob. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. you're going to Wrykyn next term. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. Mike was his special favourite. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on. and every spring since Joe." groaned Bob. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. "Mike. But he was not a cricket genius. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. Mr. what's under that dish?" "Mike. as follows: "Mike Wryky. aged three. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. Mike looked round the table. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke." she said. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. in six-eight time." From Ella. "All the boys were there. Mike put on his pads. Gladys Maud Evangeline. Whereat Gladys Maud. Joe's style. "Good. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama. was engaged in putting up the net. you know. The strength could only come with years. Saunders. obliged with a solo of her own composition. So was father. Jackson believed in private coaching. Saunders. but the style was there already." began Mr. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. miss? I was thinking he would be soon." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" ."I say. In Bob he would turn out a good." "Oh. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. you're going to Wrykyn. ages ago. "Mike." "Is he. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. It was a great moment." From Phyllis. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds." shouted Marjory. He rose to it with the utmost dignity.

Saunders?" she asked. To-day. and it stands to reason they're stronger." As Saunders had said. Saunders? He's awfully good. every bit. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. as she returned the ball. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term." Saunders looked a little doubtful." "Yes. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school." "No. it's this way. Joe's got. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. "He hit that hard enough. Going to a public school. "Next term!" he said. and watched more hopefully. you see. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. perhaps. Ready."School team." Marjory sat down again beside the net. we'll hope for the best. I don't. miss." "Ah. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. didn't he. a sort of pageant. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. You know these school professionals. Still. It's all there." said the professional. "Well. miss. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. with Master Mike. What are they like?" "Well. Master Mike? Play. but I meant next term. There's a young gentleman. too. and nineteen perhaps. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. miss. he was playing more strongly than usual. That's what he'll be playing for. miss. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. It would be a record if he did. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. The whole thing is." "But Mike's jolly strong. miss. I'm not saying it mightn't be. it was all there. you see. and that's where the runs come in. isn't he? He's better than Bob. especially at . Saunders. only all I say is don't count on it. It's quite likely that it will. Don't you think he might. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. He's got as much style as Mr. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. I was only saying don't count on it. miss. in a manner of speaking. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there.

Meanwhile. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. Gladys Maud cried. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. The latter were not numerous. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. though evidently some years older. Phyllis. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. It might be true that some day he would play for England. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. Mothers. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. Mr. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. Bob. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. there was Bob. his magazines. and he was nothing special. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. On the other hand. and his reflections. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. He wore a bowler hat. He was excited.the beginning of the summer term. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. was to board the train at East Wobsley. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. frankly bored with the whole business. nor profound. was on the verge of the first eleven. and carried a small . While he was engaged on these reflections. the village idiot. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. and now the thing had come about. He was alone in the carriage. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. The train gathered speed. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. According to Bob they had no earthly. Bob. in time to come down with a handsome tip). with rather a prominent nose. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. in his opinion. however. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. Donaldson's. The air was full of last messages. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. the train drew up at a small station. And as Marjory. but then Bob only recognised one house. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. He had a sharp face. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. by all accounts. is no great hardship. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. smiling vaguely. and Mrs.

He realised in an instant what had happened. lying snugly in the rack." "Here you are. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself.portmanteau." said Mike to himself. . but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. If he wanted a magazine. and finally sat down. stared at Mike again. and took the seat opposite to Mike. The other made no overtures. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. and wondered if he wanted anything. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. after all. Anyhow." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. which is always fatal. He seemed about to make some remark. "Good business. I regret to say. sir. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him." "Because." "No chance of that. but. but. then. let him ask for it. Judging by appearances. He was only travelling a short way. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window. And here. thought Mike. the bag had better be returned at once. got up and looked through the open window. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag. sir. sir. Besides. He opened the door. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. "Porter." "Thank you. The fellow had forgotten his bag. and at the next stop got out. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. That explained his magazineless condition. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. The trainwas already moving quite fast. he seemed to carry enough side for three. you know. instead. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. Mike acted from the best motives. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property. He did not like the looks of him particularly." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes.

though not intentionally so. "I thought you'd got out there for good. "Don't _grin_." The guard blew his whistle. escaped with a flesh wound. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders." "It wasn't that. "Have you changed carriages. looking out of the window." said Mike. dash it. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations." said the stranger. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform." he shouted. "The fact is. "I'm awfully sorry. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. which did not occur for a good many miles. ." said Mike hurriedly. and. What you want is a frightful kicking. or what?" "No. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. you little beast. Mike grinned at the recollection. This was one of them. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window." The situation was becoming difficult. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. who happened to be in the line of fire. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. and said as much." explained Mike. Then it ceased abruptly. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. "Then." said Mike. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity." Against his will. "There's nothing to laugh at. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. The head was surmounted by a bowler. It hit a porter. "I chucked it out. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway. "Hullo. and the other jumped into the carriage. I say." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station.(Porter Robinson.

Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. He took up his magazine again. "Oh. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. listening the while." "You're a bit of a rotter. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all. it's all right. "He and Wain never get on very well." said Mike. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. and all that sort of thing. holidays as well as term. there you are. Gazeka?" "Yes. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt. Bob. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. though not aggressive. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. They were discussing Wain's now. never mind. all the same. Lots of things in it I wanted. By the way. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required." "Naturally. "I swear. It's bound to turn up some time. and it's at a station miles back." "Frightful nuisance. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's. I mean. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. and yet they have to be together. "I've made rather an ass of myself. are you in Wain's?" he said. He's in your house. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. rather lucky you've met." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. "Hullo."Hullo. only he hadn't really. if I were in Wyatt's place. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man." "Oh. He grinned again. then it's certain to be all right. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. They'll send it on by the next train." agreed Firby-Smith. "It must be pretty rotten for him. what happened was this. Wyatt was apparently something of a character." "Oh." said Bob. Mike. thinking he'd got out. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled." said Bob. it's a bit thick. I say. He realised that school politics were being talked. I should rot about like anything. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past. It's just the sort . Good cricketer and footballer." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. "I say." "Frightful." "I mean.

and looked about him. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. They'll send your luggage on later. Mike. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. a blue blazer. . all more or less straight. with a happy inspiration. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. Mike started out boldly. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. I think you'd better nip up to the school. Go straight on. But here they were alone. Probably Wain will want to see you. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. and a straw hat with a coloured band. Hullo. on alighting. Crossing the square was a short. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre." Mike looked out of the window. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. and lost his way. and it's the only Christian train they run. Mike made for him. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. here we are. It was Wrykyn at last. leaving him to find his way for himself. it is simplicity itself." Bob looked at Mike." he said. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. has no perplexities. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. Silly idea." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob.of life he'll hate most. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. To the man who knows." he concluded airily. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. So long. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. and so on. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right." he said." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. and. See you later. "Heaps of them must come by this line. Plainly a Wrykynian. Go in which direction he would. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. and tell you all about things. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. which is your dorm. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob.

"It was only against kids. please." added Mike modestly. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. square-jawed face. latest model. You can't quite raise a team. And . He's in Donaldson's. shuffling. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing. it was really awfully rotten bowling. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. Only a private school. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. Any more centuries?" "Yes. How did you know my name." said the stranger." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson." said Mike. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's. He felt that they saw the humour in things." "I know. You know. He had a pleasant. "You look rather lost." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging." said Mike. "How many?" "Seven altogether. "That's pretty useful." said Mike. you're going to the school. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. "Pity." said Mike awkwardly. A stout fellow." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time." "Oh. "Oh. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. "Hullo. There's no close season for me. you know." "Are you there. this is fame. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. are you Wyatt. So you're the newest make of Jackson. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers. you know. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked." said the other." he said. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. too?" "I played a bit at my last school."Can you tell me the way to the school. then?" asked Mike.

" said Mike cautiously. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. Let's go in here. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. it's jolly big. Mike followed his finger. He was glad that he had met Wyatt." he said. They skirted the cricket field." said Mike. Look here. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome. the grounds. walking along the path that divided the two terraces. We shall want some batting in the house this term. answering for himself. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much. though no games were played on it." "Oh. We all have our troubles. And my pater always has a pro. everything. "That's Wain's. That's his. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. Everything looked so big--the buildings. I was just going to have some tea. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. a beautiful piece of turf. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps. too. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. which gave me a bit of an advantage. and took in the size of his new home." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. but that's his misfortune. It's too far to sweat to Cook's." said Wyatt." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. He felt out of the picture." said Wyatt. The next terrace was the biggest of all. You come along. where. "He's all right." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school. cut out of the hill. He's head of Wain's." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world." said Mike. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. At the top of the hill came the school. I know." "Yes. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. I believe. down in the Easter holidays. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. thanks awfully. a shade too narrow ." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. "I say.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause." "All the same. At Emsworth.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

"Oh. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. "Sugar?" asked Bob. at school. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. "How many lumps?" "Two. Silence. when they met. it is apt to throw us off our balance. but Bob did not know this. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. and his conscience smote him. As a rule. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities." "Cake?" "Thanks. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. all right"). "Well. please. to give him good advice. and if it comes before we are prepared for it. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age." said Mike. Beyond asking him occasionally. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. Bob was changing into his cricket things. "Oh. Mike had skipped these years." said Mike. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. and his batting was undeniable. There is nothing more heady than success. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. if only for one performance. "Thanks. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. It did not make him conceited. Mike arrived. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. He was older than the average new boy." . all right.

while Bob. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal.Silence. "Look here." added Bob. "You know. Only you see what I mean. Look after him! Him!! M. I'm not saying a word against you so far. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. and spoke crushingly. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner. Jackson. "You've been all right up to now. "It's only this. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother." said Mike." said Mike cautiously. if you don't watch yourself." said Bob. "What!" said Mike." he said at length. "He needn't trouble. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon." he said." "What do you mean?" said Mike. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading. Bob pulled himself together. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake. "Oh. What I mean to say is. you've got on so well at cricket. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. "I can look after myself all right." said Bob. making things worse. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience. thanks." he said. You know. "Like him?" "Yes. "I shouldn't--I mean. "Yes. I'm not saying anything against you so far. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side." Mike's feelings were too deep for words." said Bob. Mike. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. "He said he'd look after you. filled his cup. I should take care what ." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. of course. outraged. in the third and so on.

See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. Don't cheek your . He's never been dropped on yet. though. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody.") "Come up to my study. But don't you go doing it. it doesn't matter much for him. But don't let him drag you into anything. I'm going over to the nets. Don't make a frightful row in the house. That youth. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. "I've been hearing all about you. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. He felt very sore against Bob. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. (Mike disliked being called "young man. met Mike at the door of Wain's. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. all spectacles and front teeth. spoke again." said the Gazeka. "What rot!" said Mike. Not that he would try to. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. Thing is." Mike followed him in silence to his study." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude." "What do you mean?" "Well. He doesn't care a hang what he does. if you want any more tea. You'd better be going and changing. but still----" "Still what?" "Well. I wanted to see you. Stick on here a bit. "I promised I would. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. A good innings at the third eleven net. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. He's that sort of chap. I've got to be off myself. I mean. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. he's an awfully good chap." Mike shuffled. young man. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. "All right. "Ah. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. young man. of're doing with Wyatt. because he's leaving at the end of the term. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. so said nothing. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you." he said.

He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. The room was almost light. but he had never felt wider awake. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. Cut along. That's all." And Wyatt. wriggled out. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. It was a lovely night. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. but it was not so easy to do it. not with shame and remorse. I shall be deadly. He sat up in bed." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. "When I'm caught. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. and hitting it into space every time. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. he walked out of the room. too. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. with or without an air-pistol. or night rather. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. and up to his dormitory to change.elders and betters. He got out of bed and went to the window. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself. "No. you can't. would just have suited Mike's mood." "I say. and the second time he gave up the struggle." "Are you going out?" "I am." he said. He opened his eyes. if he had been at home. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton." said Wyatt." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. but with rage and all that sort of thing. increased. So long. You'll find that useful when the time comes. "Hullo. Mustn't miss a chance like this. "Is that you. He would have given much to be with him. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. as I'm morally certain to be some day. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. of wanting to do something actively illegal. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. he burned. but he ." said Wyatt. Specially as there's a good moon. Wash. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. Overcoming this feeling. by a slight sound. Anyhow. you stay where you are. Like Eric. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. just the sort of night on which.

And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. consoling thought came to him. wound the machine up. Mr."_ Mike stood and drained it in. Then a beautiful. and set it going. He took some more biscuits. There were the remains of supper on the table." And. perhaps. Wain's. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. after a few preliminary chords. As it swished into the glass. It was quite late now. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. along the passage to the left. very loud and nasal. one leading into Wain's part of the house. The next moment. Food. the other into the boys' section. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. he proceeded to look about him. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. A voice accompanied the banging.. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. Mr. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. Mike recognised it as Mr. he examined the room. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. All thought of risk left him. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. To make himself more secure he locked that door. as indeed he was. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. feeling a new man. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. And this was where the trouble began. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. turning up the incandescent light. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. It would be quite safe. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. Everybody would be in bed. He had promised not to leave the house. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. He finished it. Field).. then. feeling that he was doing himself well. Field actually did so. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. _".realised that he was on parole. After which. Down the stairs. This was Life. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. The soda-water may have got into his head. and there was an end of it. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. and an apple. He was not alarmed.

breathless. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. He lay there." pondered Mike. the kernel of the whole thing. This was good. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. and warn Wyatt. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. And at the same time. "would A. though it was not likely. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. but he must not overdo the thing. he opened the window. and dashed down the dark stairs. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. the most exciting episode of his life." The answer was simple." thought Mike. and found that they were after him. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. Wain from coming to the dormitory. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. "He'd clear out. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. and reflected.need to be alarmed. The handle-rattling was resumed. and get caught. on the other hand. and could get away by the other. He stopped the gramophone. and he'd locked one door. Then he began to be equal to it. His position was impregnable. just in time. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. It had occurred to him. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. He jumped out of bed. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. Wain. "Now what. If. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. J. Evidently his . Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. that if Mr. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. suspicion would be diverted. he must keep Mr. was that he must get into the garden somehow. It was open now. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. and he sat up. on entering the room. Two minutes later he was in bed. The main point. to date.

His hair was ruffled. please. sir. and. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. sir. He spun round at the knock. looking out." "I found the window open." "Looks like it. "Of course not. "Please. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. please. sir. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. drew inspiration from it. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. All this is very unsettling. "Thought I heard a noise. sir. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. I don't know why I asked. Mr. could barely check a laugh. He knocked at the door. of course not. He wore spectacles." said Mike. sir. Wain was a tall. sir!" said Mike. Mr. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. a row." . Wain. Wain continued to stare. catching sight of the gramophone." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. "I think there must have been a burglar in here. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. Jackson. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. He looked about him. and went in." said Mr. sir. Mike. "Of course not. sir. "_Me_." If it was Mr." "A noise?" "Please. "So I came down." "A noise?" "A row. in spite of his anxiety. Wain was standing at the window. He looked like some weird bird. Mr. I thought I heard a noise." said Mike. thin man.retreat had been made just in time. Wain hurriedly. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard.

"He's probably in the garden." Mr." "Perhaps you are right. There might be a bit of a row on his return. An inarticulate protest from Mr. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. Wain. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. "Who on earth's that?" it said. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties." said Mr. _"Et tu. The moon had gone behind the clouds. sir. and vaulted through it on to the lawn." cried Mike. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. He felt that all was well." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. eliciting sharp howls of pain. I know. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again. such an ass. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. "He might be still in the house." said Wyatt. then tore for the regions at the back. Mike stopped. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. I mean." "Yes. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. sir." Mr. sir. Wain. sir. ruminatively. sir. as who should say. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. He ran to the window. "Is that you. you might . "You young ass. His knees were covered with mould. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. "Not likely. Wain looked at the shrubbery. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. Jackson. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window.

" And Mike rapidly explained the situation. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please. I'll get back. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. You must tread like a policeman. you see. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. He must have got out of the garden.' Ripping it was. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course." "Yes." "Undoubtedly. come in. sir. I will not have it. It was very wrong of you to search for him. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window. sir. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row." Mike clambered through the window. "I never saw such a man. standing outside with his hands on the sill. but you don't understand. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. "You have no business to be excited. The thing was. "It's miles from his bedroom. Exceedingly so. and I'll go back to the dining-room. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt. Wain was still in the dining-room." said least have the sense to walk quietly. Have you no sense. you might come down too. it was rather a rotten thing to do. but I turned on the gramophone. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. "I couldn't find him." said Mike. if you like. Well. You have been seriously injured." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. Exceedingly so" ." he said." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. till Wain came along. so excited. You dash along then. Latin and English. Come in at once. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. I will not have it. Wain. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared." "It wasn't that. sir. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. "Undoubtedly so. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird. "You're a genius. I suppose." Mr." "Please. You will do me two hundred lines. "But how the dickens did he hear you. Or. All right." "That's not a bad idea.

" he said. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. "I was under the impression.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. The question stung Mr. you understand me? To bed at once." he said. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. sir. Clowes was on the window-sill. In these circumstances." "But the burglar." said Mike. "We might catch him. preparatory to going on the river. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. you will both be punished with extreme severity. You hear me. "only he has got away. hanging over space. He yawned before he spoke. sir. He loved to sit in this attitude. "sir" in public. Wain into active eruption once more. Wain "father" in private. James--and you. He called Mr. Mr. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. It is preposterous. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous." "Shall I go out into the garden. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first." he said excitedly. one leg in the room. Inordinately so. "Stay where you are." They made it so. "Under no circumstances whatever. James. I must be obeyed instantly. Jackson? James. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. the other outside. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. getting tea ready. and have a look round. Both of you go to bed immediately. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. And. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. "I thought I heard a noise. sir?" said Wyatt. ." said Mike. watching some one else work. At least Trevor was in the study. of Donaldson's.

' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn." "Silly ass. That's a thing you couldn't do. and looked sad. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded. you'd have let your people send him here." "My lad. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun. Tigellinus." "Too busy." "Marlborough. but can't think of Life. Trevor was shorter." said Trevor." "That shows your sense.' I say. packing . and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. which he was not." said Clowes. Clowes was tall. 'and he's all right. Where is he? Your brother. I suppose it's fun to him. "One for the pot." said Clowes. Couple of years younger than me. laddie. I lodged a protest. I said. My people wanted to send him here. Consider it unsaid.'" "You were right there. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. Trevor?" "One. I mean.' That's what I say. Not a bad chap in his way. I say. Better order it to-day. Trevor." said Trevor. "All right. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school. "I said. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. Aged fifteen. Did I want them spread about the school? No. But when it comes to deep thought." "You aren't doing a stroke. we see my brother two terms ago. Trevor. two excess. Hence. "Come and help. 'One Clowes is luxury. I often say to people. 'Good chap. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. you slacker. Cheek's what I call it. we shall want some more jam to-morrow. where is he? Among the also-rans." "My mind at the moment. I should think. I'm thinking of Life. Like the heroes of the school stories. as our old pal Nero used to remark. slicing bread. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work.' At least." breathed Trevor. I have a brother myself. and very much in earnest over all that he did. If you'd been a silly ass. Have you got any brothers." "See it done." "I withdraw what I said about your sense.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them. I did not.

which he might easily do. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. We were on the subject of brothers at school. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. naturally. loved by all who know me." "Why?" "Well. I've talked to him several times at the nets. In other words. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. Bob seems to be trying the first way. My heart bleeds for Bob." said Trevor. however.up his little box. For once in your life you've touched the spot." he said. At present. It's just the one used by chaps' people. revered by all who don't. so far. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. You say Jackson's all right. If I frown----" "Oh. and he's very decent. "Mr. I suppose." "Well?" "Look here. At the end of that period." "That's just it. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. but while they're there. What's wrong with him? Besides. It's all right." "What's up? Does he rag?" . the term's only just started. as I said. with an unstained reputation. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded. It may be all right after they're left. courted by boys. But the term's hardly started yet. but." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. come on. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour." "Young Jackson seems all right. Now. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. too. who looks on him as no sportsman. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. so he broods over him like a policeman. it's the limit. perhaps. fawned upon by masters. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. And here am I at Wrykyn." "Jackson's all right. considering his cricket. he returned to his subject. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us." "What a rotten argument. and tooling off to Rugby. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. he is. It's the masters you've got to consider. which is what I should do myself. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct.

" "I know." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. and which is bound to make rows between them. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. Besides. anyhow. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that. however. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him. every other night. unless he leaves before it comes off." "I don't know. and does them. too. You'd only make him do the policeman business." "All front teeth and side. it's the boot every time." "He never seems to be in extra. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. which he hasn't time for. He's asking for trouble. and. Still. if Jackson's so thick with him. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. Well. ." "Yes." "The Gazeka is a fool." Trevor looked disturbed." "If you must tell anybody. walking back to the house. he's on the spot. I shouldn't think so." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. Let's stagger out. And if you're caught at that game."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging. that he'll be roped into it too. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. tell the Gazeka. It's nothing to do with us. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. Better leave him alone. The odds are. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. He's head of Wain's. One always sees him about on half-holidays. But what's the good of worrying. For instance. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. All I say is that he's just the sort who does.

I forgot to get the evening paper." said Bob." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. oiling a bat." "I know. Only he is rather mucking about this term. you know. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking.He found him in his study. Smith said he'd speak to him. that I know of. I meant the one here. then. bewildered. If Wyatt likes to risk it. J. Bob. I say. I didn't mean that brother. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house. Rather rot. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. "My brother. all right. He'd have more chance." "That's all right then. I hear. though. I think I'll speak to him again. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day." "Oh. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident." "I should get blamed. you did? That's all right. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too. "I say. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. I spoke to him about it. "look here. being in the same house. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper." "Not a bit." "I've done that. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. W." "I should. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's." "Oh. Well?" "About your brother. I think. Are you busy?" "No." "Oh." "Don't blame him. Why?" "It's this way. That's his look out. but. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. "That reminds me. sitting up." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. It's his last. by Jove." ." "Nor do I." he said.

it's not been chucked away. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. started on his Thucydides. at home. when suddenly there is a hush. and he said. You have a pro. and 51. I expect. he thinks. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. to coach you in the holidays." "Better than at the beginning of the term. W.W. It is just the same with a row. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn. Some trivial episode occurs. Henfrey'll be captain. when they meet." "Saunders. having finished his oiling and washed his hands." He went back to his study.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days. Nearly all the first are leaving. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. And. the pro. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. though. 18.' There's a subtle difference. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. I asked him what he thought of me. The next moment the thing has begun. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm." "Sort of infant prodigy. Pretty good for his first term." "Yes. I didn't go to him much this last time. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. I suppose he'll get his first next year. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row." said Trevor. You were rather in form. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. "I thought I heard it go. and Bob. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. and there falls on you from space one big drop. Better than J. I was away a lot. and you are standing in a shower-bath. But Mike fairly lived inside the net." "Well. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O." "Hope so. Bob. . anyhow. and had beaten them. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. I simply couldn't do a thing then. Mr. don't you?" "Yes. for years. even.s.

together with the school choir." And. The thing had happened after this fashion. Still. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. only they bar one another) told me about it. The banquet. I hope you are quite well. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. I didn't do much. songs. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. I had to dive for it.W. and Spence). And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. "MIKE. There's a dinner after the matches on O. "P. B. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. Jones.S. only I'd rather it was five bob.W. I wasn't in it. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town.S. and there was rather a row. and half the chaps are acting. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. only I don't quite know where he comes in. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. on the back of the envelope.--Half-a-crown would do." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. "Your loving son. Rather rot.W. Low down. I believe he's rather sick about it. He was run out after he'd got ten. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. Love to everybody. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. So I didn't go in.P. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. lasted. because I didn't get an innings. "P. They stop the cricket on O. as a . but didn't do much. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. On the Monday they were public property. the Surrey man. lengthened by speeches. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. and 30 in a form match. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. He was in it all right. and I got bowled). because they won the toss and made 215.--Thanks awfully for your letter. so we stop from lunch to four. Rot I call it. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket. could you? I'm rather broke. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. so I played.--I say. He's Wain's step-son. day. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. Rather decent. I may get another shot. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. Bob played for the first. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER.

the town. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. Risks which before supper seemed great. accordingly. and Wrykyn. As a rule. Wrykyn. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. as a rule. in the midst of their festivities. and. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. Possibly. one's views are apt to alter. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. . they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. the town." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. The school was always anxious for a row. In the present crisis. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. which they used. rural type of hooliganism. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. till about ten o'clock. and hit Wyatt on the right ear. therefore. This was the official programme. But tomatoes cannot. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. When. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. and the authorities. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. and had been the custom for generations back. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. About midway between Wrykyn. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. and that the criticisms were. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. show a tendency to dwindle. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. Words can be overlooked. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths.rule. But there were others. the school. It was the custom. brainless. it was not considered worth it. and turn in. and then race back to their houses. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. essentially candid and personal. for the honour of the school. as usual. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. all might yet have been peace. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school.

Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. but two remained. now splitting up into little groups. Wyatt. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. and the procession had halted on the brink. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. and stampeded as one man. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. It struck Wyatt. "Now then. The science was on the side of the school. of whose presence you had no idea. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. while some dear friend of his. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. "Let's chuck 'em in there. It raged up and down the road without a pause. and then kicks your shins. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. He very seldom lost his temper. panting. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. except the prisoners. The leaders were beyond recall. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. it looked unspeakable at night. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring. By the side of the road at this point was a green." he said. depressed looking pond. They were smarting under a sense of injury. it was no time for science. A move was made towards the pond. Gloomy in the daytime. But. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes.There was a moment of suspense. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato." it said. when a new voice made itself heard. for they suddenly gave the fight up. . Barely a dozen remained. at any rate at first. now in a solid mass." he said quietly.

a lark's a lark. young gentleman." said Wyatt. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. and seized the captive by the arm. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land." "I don't want none of your lip. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. a cheer from the launching party. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. The prisoner did." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner." said Wyatt. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. Carry on. I expect there are leeches and things there. with a change in his voice." said Mr. Don't swallow more than you can help. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. He ploughed his way to the bank."What's all this?" "It's all right. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. sprang forward." "Ho!" said the policeman. you chaps. A howl from the townee. "You run along on your beat. This isn't a lark. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. whoever you are." "Stop!" From Mr. but you ought to know where to stop. are they? Come now. He'll have churned up a bit. it's an execution. Butt. but if out quick they may not get on to you. Butt. a yell from the policeman. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. "This is quite a private matter. That's what we are. or you'll go typhoid. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. "Ho. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman. Butt. "All right. going in second. The policeman realised his peril too late. and a splash compared with which . you chaps." "It's anything but a lark. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. Mr. Constable Butt. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. scrambled out. understanding but dimly. You can't do anything here. and suspecting impudence by instinct. "Make 'em leave hold of us. and vanished.

The tomato hit Wyatt. Yes. with others. Police Constable Alfred Butt. Mr. Butt gave free rein to it. and throws away the match. Wyatt. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. but both comparisons may stand. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. Mr. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. calling upon the headmaster. _Plop_!" said Mr. sir. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. really!" said the headmaster. Following the chain of events. and "with them. "Threw me in. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. we find Mr. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. they did. and. Butt. Butt fierce and revengeful. sir. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. it has become world-famous." said Wyatt. and the interested neighbours are following their example. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. I shall--certainly----" . having prudently changed his clothes. "Do you know." as they say in the courts of law.the first had been as nothing. before any one can realise what is happening." "Threw you in!" "Yes. sheets of fire are racing over the country. with a certain sad relish. and all was over. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. but in the present case. Butt. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. It was no occasion for light apologies. sir. "Really. went to look for the thrower. The imagination of the force is proverbial.

'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. sir. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. I can hardly believe that it is possible. sir." said Mr. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. sir. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. Butt. sir. too. 'Why." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. and I couldn't see not to say properly. constable." The headmaster's frown deepened. again with the confidential air." "Yes. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist. Mr. sir. Wringin' wet. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. Butt promptly. "I was on my beat. "Couple of 'undred. Good-night. They actually seized you." "H'm--Well. beginning to suspect something. They shall be punished. I says to myself.' And. and fighting. Had he been a motorist.' I says." "Yes. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_." concluded Mr.' I says. with the air of one confiding a secret. according to discretion. As it was. sir. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. ''Allo." "I have never heard of such a thing. right from the beginning. "How many boys were there?" he asked. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. and I thought I heard a disturbance. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying." he added. I wonder?' I says. 'a frakkus. He . sir! Mrs. She says to me. sir. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. I will look into the matter at once. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. 'Wot's this all about. sir." "Yes--Thank you. sir.' And. sir!" said the policeman." "Good-night. "I _was_ wet. Butt started it again. Lots of them all gathered together.

and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest.. become public property.. but for one malcontent. They were not malicious. .'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. astounded "Here. A public school has no Hyde Park. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. always ready to stop work. though not always in those words. he got the impression that the school. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. blank.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. expend itself in words." they had said. And here they were. I say!" Everybody was saying it. and finally become a mere vague memory. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. The pond affair had. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. Only two days before the O. but Eton and Harrow had set the example.W. There is every probability--in fact. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. The school was thunderstruck. right in it after all. and in private at that.. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. The blow had fallen. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. It happened that. of course. and not of only one or two individuals. It must always. It could not understand it. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. which at one time had looked like being fatal. It was one vast. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. When condensed. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. and the school. "There'll be a frightful row about it. which was followed throughout the kingdom. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. about a week before the pond episode. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. As it was. it is certain--that. was culpable. or nearly always. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. he would have asked for their names. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. however. as a whole.

and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic." "Why not?" said Wyatt. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. a day-boy. and scenting sarcasm. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. and he was full of it." "You're rotting. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons. and. Wyatt was unmoved. and probably considered himself. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter." . It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. It requires genius to sway a school. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. Leaders of men are rare. He said it was a swindle. as a whole. a daring sort of person. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes." "All right. intense respect for order and authority. I'm not going to. that it was all rot. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. He added that something ought to be done about it. on the whole. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. even though he may not approve of it. and that it was a beastly shame. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school.The malcontent was Wyatt. Before he came to Wyatt." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. their ironbound conservatism. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. "Well. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority.

to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority. I should be glad of a little company. They couldn't sack the whole school. Are you just going to cut off." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone. what a score." "I could get quite a lot. nor could they! I say!" They walked on." said Neville-Smith after a pause." "I suppose so." "By Jove. they couldn't do much. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow. "Do." "You'll get sacked. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. "It would be a bit of a rag. excited way. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea." "I say." "All right. but." said Wyatt. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings. I say. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. If the whole school took Friday off. "I say." Another pause. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses. But only because I shall be the only one to do it. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with." "That would be a start. I believe." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. Wyatt whistling. and let you know. ragging barred." "Not bad."No. Groups kept forming in corners apart. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith.

and walked to school." . I say. but it had its leaven of day-boys. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. "It's jolly rum. as a general rule." said Willoughby. "I say. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about.W. The majority of these lived in the town. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters." "So should I. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part." "Somebody would have turned up by now. to Brown. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning. were empty. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. Some one might have let us know. I can't make it out. The form-rooms. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car." "So do I. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. Why. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school. I should have got up an hour later. rather to the scandal of the authorities. whose homes were farther away. trying to get in in time to answer their names. like the gravel. the only other occupant of the form-room. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. and at three minutes to nine. it's just striking. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. Punctuality is the politeness of princes.'s day row. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. who. however." said Brown. came on bicycles. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. though unable to interfere. saying it was on again all right. what a swindle if he did. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. A few. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. of the Lower Fifth.

sir. ." "None of the boarders?" "No. Spence told himself." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. and a few more were standing. Mr. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. sir. and the notice was not brought to me. here _is_ somebody. if the holiday had been put on again. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. He walked briskly into the room. sir. We were just wondering. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. "Well. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. as he walked to the Common Room. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. as you say." "I've heard nothing about it." "Yes. Brown. He was not a house-master. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. sir. and looked puzzled. Seeing the obvious void. Spence as he entered. Spence pondered. sir." he said." Mr." "Have you seen nobody?" "No. sir. A brisk conversation was going on. Spence. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. he stopped in his stride. sir. after all. Spence seated himself on the table. Not a single one. Spence?" Mr."Hullo." It was the master of the Lower Fifth. "Hullo. Several voices hailed Mr. Spence. Perhaps." "This is extraordinary. as was his habit. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. we don't know." Mr. there is a holiday to-day. "Willoughby. The usual lot who come on bikes. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been." "We were just wondering. And they were all very puzzled.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. * * * * * At the school. And the army lunched sumptuously. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. it melted away little by little. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. . walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. the march home was started. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. and as evening began to fall. Wyatt. In addition." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. Private citizens rallied round with bread. as generalissimo of the expedition. singing the school song. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. At the school gates only a handful were left. and apples. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. At Worfield the expedition lunched. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. As the army drew near to the school. please. In the early afternoon they rested. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. with comments and elaborations. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. And two days later. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. He always told that as his best story." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. It was not a market-day. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. "Yes. there was wonderfully little damage done to property." the leading inn of the town. They looked weary but cheerful. "Anything I can do for you.his paper. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. and he always ended with the words. each house claiming its representatives. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. faintly. fortunately." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. net practice was just coming to an end when. Other inns were called upon for help. jam." said Wyatt. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted.

then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. Finds the job too big to tackle. were openly exulting. isn't it! He's funked it." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. met Wyatt at the gate. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. "My dear chap. "I say. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice." He then gave the nod of dismissal. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features. It hasn't started yet. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. walking back to Donaldson's. thought the school. The less astute of the picnickers. But it came all . and gazed at him. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. There was. speechless.Bob Jackson. Now for it. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. I thought he would." Wyatt was damping. This was the announcement. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. The school streamed downstairs. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance." he said. they didn't send in the bill right away. indeed." he chuckled." said Wyatt. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. "Hullo. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. "this is all right. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. marvelling. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics.

" said Clowes. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. as they went back to the house. I never saw such a man. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred." ." "Sting?" "Should think it did. Only the bigger fellows. It was a comprehensive document. "What!" "Yes. Buns were forgotten." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. "I don't know what you call getting off. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one." it began." "Glad you think it funny." said Mike. Rather a good thing. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. I was one of the first to get it. It left out little." "Thanks. rushing to the shop for its midday bun." Wyatt roared with laughter. the school sergeant. "Bates must have got writer's cramp." he said. then?" "Rather. He was quite fresh. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them. This bloated document was the extra lesson list. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. who was walking a little stiffly. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson. I'm glad you got off.right." said Mike ruefully. "By Gad. They surged round it. He lowers all records. "None of the kids are in it." "Do you think he's going to do something. I notice. The headmaster had acted. You wait. To-day. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. as he read the huge scroll. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. and post them outside the school shop. "he is an old sportsman." Wyatt was right.

Wyatt." "You needn't rot. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. really. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening." continued Wyatt. You'll probably get my place in the team." "You don't think there's any chance of it. captain of Wrykyn cricket. overcome." said Mike uncomfortably. rather. whatever his batting was like. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. He had his day-dreams. by Jove! I forgot." "I say. Ashe. was a genial giant. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No." said Mike. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and." "I should be awfully sick. making a century in record time). I thought you weren't. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot. I don't blame him either. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. rather. especially as he's a bowler himself. if his fielding was something extra special." "Well." "Oh. one of the places. The present was one of the rare . like everybody else. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. Fielding especially." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. that's the lot. so you're all right. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. Still. That's next Wednesday. So you field like a demon this afternoon. "it's awfully decent of you. I should think they'd give you a chance. Let's see." * * * * * Billy Burgess. "All right. match. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me." "I'm not breaking down. do you?" said Mike awkwardly. Probably Druce.C. what rot!" "It is. Adams. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. Me."Well. But there'll be several vacancies. if it were me." "I say." said Mike. "I'm not rotting. Don't break down. "Or. incidentally." "An extra's nothing much. Any more? No. it isn't you. buck up. Burgess is simply mad on fielding." said Wyatt seriously." said Mike indignantly. Anyhow.C. you're better off than I am. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it.

"Eight. I was on the spot.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury." "I suppose he is. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal. in the excitement of the moment the M. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end.C. shortly before lock-up.. "He's as good a bat as his brother.C. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. I will say that for him. as Wyatt appeared. Bill. Dash.. That kid's good." "You haven't got a mind. And I'd jump on the sack first. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. "Come on. For a hundred and three." "Why don't you play him against the M. "I'm awfully sorry." "Rot. There it is in the corner. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. he isn't small. He's as tall as I am. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute. match went clean out of my mind. full of strange oaths. Besides. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt." said Wyatt. I've dropped my stud. and a better field. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. jumping at his opportunity. "The fact is. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when . and drop you into the river.C. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. like the soldier in Shakespeare." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. That's your trouble." grumbled Burgess. Wyatt found him in his study.C." "Right ho!." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack. give me a kiss. and let's be friends. Then he returned to the attack.

" Wyatt stopped for breath. Burgess. better . He read it. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. "You rotter. Wyatt. how you 'discovered' M." said Wyatt. bottom but one. at Lord's. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. then. wouldn't you? Very well." he said. Jackson." "You play him. Give him a shot. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. The bell went ages ago." he said. I shall be locked out. Frightful gift of the gab you've got. and his heart missed a beat. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. "I'll think it over. just above the W. "All right. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. gassing to your grandchildren. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments.C. For. "Think it over." Wyatt got up. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag.C. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. Everything seems hushed and expectant." said Burgess. So long.C. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about." Burgess hesitated. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. B. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent. there is a curious." "Good. it's a bit risky. That kid's a genius at cricket.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. CHAPTER XIII THE M.C. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. Better stick to the men at the top of the second. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for. chaps who play forward at everything. poor kids." said Wyatt. "Just give him a trial. His own name. even Joe. and you rave about top men in the second. "You know. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings.

Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman." said Saunders. He could almost have cried with pure fright. feeling quite hollow." said Saunders. sir.after lunch. you know. Master Mike. I'm hanged! Young marvel. "Didn't I always say it. as Saunders had done. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out." he said. Master Mike. "Got all the strokes. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. Saunders!" cried Mike. and then they'll have to put you in. He stopped short. Mike walked across from Wain's. hopeless feeling left Mike.C. "Why. Saunders?" "He is. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy.C. "By Jove. when the strangeness has worn off. I always said it. and quite suddenly." Joe took Mike by the shoulder. you'll make a hundred to-day. the lost. so that they could walk over together." "Well. "Why. "Isn't it ripping. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. Three chaps are in extra.." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. Hullo." he chuckled. sir. where he had changed. to wait. and I got one of the places. Master Joe. and stopped dead. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M." "Of course. Only wants the strength. here he is. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. saw him. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . I'm only playing as a sub. isn't he. team came down the steps." "Well. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo.

And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. The wicket was hard and true. The M. Saunders is our only bowler. It was a moment too painful for words. tried to late-cut a rising ball. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground." "This is our star. and playing for the school. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. getting in front of his wicket.M. and hoping that nothing would come his way. It was the easiest of slip-catches." "I _have_ won the toss. At twenty." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. The beginning of the game was quiet.C. The Authentic. . just when things seemed most hopeless. Joe began to open his shoulders. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. who grinned bashfully.w. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. sorry as a captain. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. as usual. dropped it. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. was feeling just the same. aren't you. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. Bob. conscious of being an uncertain field.b. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. You are only ten. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. "I never saw such a family. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. "Aged ten last birthday. exhibiting Mike. and the pair gradually settled down. not to mention the other first-class men. Burgess was glad as a private individual. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. for Joe. And. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. "What do you think of this?" said Joe.C. As a captain.C. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. team. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. but he contrived to chop it away. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. For himself. relief came. but Bob fumbled it. You wait till he gets at us to-day. almost held it a second time. On the other hand. missed it.C. but he is." said the other with dignity. still taking risks. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. and was l.

and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. A comfortable. was stumped half-way through the third. His second hit had just lifted the M. and was then caught by Mike. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. invincible." he said to Berridge and Marsh. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. Burgess. things settled down. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. After this. Joe was still in at one end. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. and two hundred and fifty. Unfortunately. Runs came with fair regularity. was optimistic. coming in last. Morris. on the present occasion. and was stumped next ball." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . Then Joe reached his century. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. was a thoroughly sound bat.The school revived. Then came lunch. "By Jove. all round the wicket. "Lobs. there was scarcely time. third-change bowlers had been put on. Some years before. the end was very near. The hundred went up at five o'clock.C. a little on the slow side. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. Two hundred went up.C. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. and the M. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. Four after four. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. A hundred an hour is quick work. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. Saunders. the school first pair." said Burgess. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school.C. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. but exceedingly hard to shift. however. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. hit two boundaries. I wish I was in. but wickets fell at intervals. as usual. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in.C. Following out this courageous advice. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. "Better have a go for them. Both batsmen were completely at home. to make the runs. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. Berridge. against Ripton. the hundred and fifty at half-past. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. the first-wicket man. total over the three hundred.

Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over." said Burgess. as usual. The first over yielded six runs. He had refused to be tempted. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank.. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. No good trying for the runs now. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. It was the same story to-day. Bob Jackson went in next. The bowler smiled sadly. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. It was his turn next. five wickets were down. all through gentle taps along the ground. He was jogging on steadily to his century. In the second. and Mike. "That's all you've got to do. . Mike felt as if he was being strangled. Morris was still in at one end. He knew his teeth were chattering. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. He wished he could stop them. tottered out into the sunshine. because they had earned it. At last he arrived. as if he hated to have to do these things. "and it's ten past six. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. The long stand was followed. For a time things went well. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. insinuating things in the world. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. Mike drew courage from his attitude. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary." he added to Mike. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. and Morris. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. Bob. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. by a series of disasters. Lobs are the most dangerous. fumbling at a glove. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet." All!. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. but they were distinctly envious. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. Twenty runs were added. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. And that was the end of Marsh. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. three of them victims to the lobs. and a thin. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. and get the thing over. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. Saunders. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. As a matter of fact. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. Stick in. seemed to give Morris no trouble. and hit the wicket. At the wickets.. he felt better. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them.

but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. he failed signally. but he himself must simply stay in. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. All nervousness had left him. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. He felt equal to the situation. Saunders was beginning his run.. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. Mike grinned. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. and you can't get out. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. Burgess came in. besides being conscientious. and invariably hit a boundary. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. "Don't be in a funk. It was a half-volley. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. did not disturb him. sir. it was Mike's first appearance for the school.. skips and the jump. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. . sometimes a cut. just the right distance away from the off-stump. "To leg. but Mike played everything that he did bowl.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. Sometimes a drive. but always a boundary. doubtless. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. and." said a voice. which he hit to the terrace bank. moment Mike felt himself again. wryly but gratefully. If so. Mike would have liked to have run two.." said the umpire. the school was shouting. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. The next moment the dreams had come true. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. On the other hand. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball. There was only Reeves to follow him. and Saunders. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. The bowling became a shade loose. and bowled. "Play straight. Burgess continued to hit. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. Now." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. Saunders was a conscientious man. The moment had come. Even the departure of Morris. Half-past six chimed. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket." It was Joe.

and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. "nothing." said Burgess. to Burgess after the match. at the last ball. Five: another yorker. Mike played it back to the bowler. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. and we have our eye on you.C. All was well. were not brilliant cricketers. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. Got him! Three: straight half-volley." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude." Mike was a certainty now for the second. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. so you may as well have the thing now. It hummed over his head." said Wyatt. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. "I'll give him another shot. Four: beat him. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. the visiting team. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. of the School House. and mid-off. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. jumping. this may not seem an excessive reward. just failed to reach it. dropped down into the second. Joe. That meant. naturally. "I'm sorry about your nose. "He's not bad. "You are a promising man. as many a good man had done before him.The lob bowler had taken himself off. They might mean anything from "Well. But it was all that he expected. almost at a venture. who had played twice for the first eleven. against the Gentlemen of the County. Mike let it alone." Then came the second colours. You won't get any higher." said the wicket-keeper. as has been pointed out." But Burgess. First one was given one's third eleven cap. fast left-hand. and Mike got his place in the next match. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. He hit out. * * * * * So Wilkins. Number two: yorker." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. here you are. "I told you so. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap.C." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. Down on it again in the old familiar way. Unfortunately for him. at any rate as far . As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. however gentlemanly. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. match. and missed the wicket by an inch.

_verbatim_. supported by some small change. House matches had begun. when the Gazeka. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. and was thoroughly set. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. The school won the toss. . The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. and Berridge. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. Mike went in first wicket. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. made a fuss. The Gazeka. who had the bowling. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end.C. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. eh? Well. and. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. not out. having summoned him to his study for the purpose.C. with Raikes. did better in this match. Then Wain's opened their innings. having the most tender affection for his dignity. bursting with fury. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. and Marsh all passing the half-century. "Come on. Mike pounded it vigorously. The bowling was concerned. Run along. to the detriment of Mike's character. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. mind you don't go getting swelled head. this score did not show up excessively." he said. Bob. See? That's all. as the star. of the third eleven. "Well. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. but Firby-Smith. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. match. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. he waxed fat and kicked. was captain of the side. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. and was then caught at cover. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. He was enjoying life amazingly." Mike departed. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. as head of the house. and he and Wyatt went in first. making twenty-five. He had made seventeen. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. Ellerby. prancing down the pitch. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity." he shouted. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. For some ten minutes all was peace. went in first. Raikes possessed few subtleties. hit one in the direction of cover-point. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. Morris making another placid century. It happened in this way. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets.

"Rather a large order." he said." . And only a prefects' meeting. "What's up?" said Burgess. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. "It isn't funny. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. avoided him. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity. The world swam before Mike's eyes. and lick him. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. At close of play he sought Burgess. And Mike. Burgess. besides being captain of the eleven. Mike's shaft sank in deeply." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. a prefects' meeting. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings." Burgess looked incredulous.Mike. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. These are solemn moments. miss it. you grinning ape!" he cried. "I want to speak to you. cover having thrown the ball in. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. shouting "Run!" and. you know. feeling now a little apprehensive." he said. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. thought Firby-Smith." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. Burgess. "You know young Jackson in our house. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused." he said reprovingly. Firby-Smith did not grovel. was also head of the school. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. Firby-Smith arrived. chewing the insult. "Don't _laugh_." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. a man of simple speech. he was also sensitive on the subject. "Easy run there.

Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. It became necessary. In the first place. Bob was one of his best friends. he's a decent kid." "Oh. In the second place. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. therefore. I'll think it over. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. with the air of one uttering an epigram. It was only fair that Bob should be told. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike.C. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. but he thought the thing over. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. ." And the matter was left temporarily at that. Bob occurred to him. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. "Yes. Geddington. Here was he. were strong this year at batting. and let you know to-morrow. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. well--Well. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. And here was another grievance against fate." "He's frightfully conceited." said Firby-Smith. as the nearest of kin. Besides. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. "Rather thick. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. On the other hand. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. and particularly the M. match. Still. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be.C. but turned the laugh into a cough. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. I mean--A prefects' meeting."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team." he said meditatively. anyhow. the results of the last few matches. Burgess started to laugh. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. look here. "Well.

Bob was bad. I sympathise with the kid. "Hullo. Have some?" "No. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team." he added. the captain. "Busy. took his place. "Take a pew." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. You know how to put a thing nicely." continued Burgess gloomily. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. "Personally. but in fielding there was a great deal. one's bound to support him. "Sickening thing being run out." he said." "I suppose so. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. dark. can't you? This is me. thanks. Mike was good. sitting over here. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. So out Bob had gone. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. It's rather hard to see what to do. He came to me frothing with rage. "Still. the man. The tall. Bob?" he asked.' Billy. "Still----" "I know." . Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. handsome chap. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. Bob." said Bob.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. you know." "Well. look here. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. "Silly young idiot. but he _is_ an ass. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. you can." suggested Burgess. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. and Neville-Smith." "It's awfully awkward. I want to see you. I say.

You know. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. He wants kicking. he became all animation. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now. Seeing Bob. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing." said Bob. apart from everything else. go and ask him to drop the business."Awful rot. made him waver. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith." said Bob. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent." he said." he said. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. But he recovered himself. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. "I wanted to see you." . "Look here. you know. You must play the the old Gazeka over. you know. "You see it now. I know. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. not much of a catch for me." It was a difficult moment for Bob. I don't know. you're a pal of his. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. "I say. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this. "I didn't think of you. One cannot help one's thoughts. I tell you what. He had a great admiration for Bob. though. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. "I that sort. "Well. Look here. By now he'll have simmered down a bit." he said. nothing--I mean." emended the aggrieved party. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. aren't you? Well. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. "Yes?" "Oh. "Burgess was telling me. too. you're not a bad sort. I'm a prefect. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. He gets right way. would it be. "I thought you hadn't. "Don't do that." he said. is there? I mean. Bob." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. having to sit there and look on." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects.

It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. without interest." "Thanks. Curiously enough. "I'm specially glad for one reason. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. I think if I saw him and cursed him. And. . He wished he could find some way of repaying him. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. and Burton felt revengeful. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him." said Burton. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. Reflection. and owed him many grudges." "No. of course. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house. you know. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. most of all. Still. it was frightful cheek." "Yes. there's that. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. Mike. of Donaldson's. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest. and went to find Mike." "What's that?" inquired Mike. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. Mike's all right."Well. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. and unburdened his soul to him." said Bob. "I say. After all. Firby-Smith. so subdued was his fighting spirit. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. he gave him to understand." and Bob waving them back. He was not inclined to be critical. But for Bob." "Of course it was. All right then." said Mike. and the offensively forgiving. He was a punctured balloon. in the course of his address. he felt grateful to Bob. really. fourteen years of age. he. I did run him out. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. though without success. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right." "Thanks. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter.

retiring hurriedly. though. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. as it were. too." said Mike stolidly. We wanted your batting. just before lock-up. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. Be all right. anyway. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition." "Thanks. I suppose?" "Oh." said Mike. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. in a day or two. that's bad luck. so that Burton." And Burgess. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. They were _all_ beasts. some taint. On the evening before the Geddington match. Not once or twice. Beastly bad luck. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. "I've crocked my wrist a bit." "I say. but several times. yes. He tapped with his right hand. weighing this remark. He kicked Burton.54 next morning." "Good-night. "Come in!" yelled the captain." "Hope so. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. Good-night. Burgess. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. rather. and gradually made up his mind. CHAPTER XVI . with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him. He'd have been playing but for you. He thought the thing over more fully during school. and his decision remained unaltered. * * * * * Mike walked on. for his left was in a sling. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule.

" "Doctor seen it?" "No. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house." "They're playing Geddington. after an adventurous career. and. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. It's nothing much. But it's really nothing. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. Only it's away. mainly in Afghanistan." "I could manage about that." "H'm. Coming south. Now. thanks." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect." "Why aren't you--Hullo. His telegram arrived during morning school. I didn't see. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. I'll have a look later on. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. and." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. There's a second match on. It doesn't matter a bit. Uncle John. "It isn't anything. Somebody ought to look at it. really. "School playing anybody to-day. what shall we do." "Hurt?" "Not much. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. Still.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. . It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. I think I should like to see the place first. at the request of Mike's mother." "Never mind. He had thereupon left the service. Mike? I want to see a match. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. Be all right by Monday. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth.

Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team." he said enviously. They look as if they were getting set. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. There are only three vacancies. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand." said Mike. But I wish I . where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. and better do it as soon as possible. I was playing for the first. "Ah yes. No wonder you're feeling badly treated." "Rather awkward." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded. I didn't know that.Got to be done. "That's Trevor. by George!" remarked Uncle John. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. Of course. What bad luck. but he choked the feeling down. I should think. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. I've got plenty of time. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. A sudden. it's Bob's last year." Uncle John detected the envious note. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. and done well. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school. Neville-Smith. By Jove. as Trevor. "Chap in Donaldson's. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. they'll probably keep him in. Mike." "For the first? For the school! My word. The thing was done." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. Very nice. if he does well against Geddington." two or three times in an absent voice. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. Then there'll be only the last place left. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. that. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said." "Still. but I thought that was only as a substitute. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. it was this Saturday. He's in the School House. "If he does well to-day. I see. and they passed on to the cricket field. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. It was a glorious day.

and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. "That willow's what you want. then gave it a little twist. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. Can you manage with one hand? Here. and sighed contentedly." "Rotten trick for a boy." said Mike. "The worst of a school. The next piece of shade that you see." said Mike. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage.could get in this year. Mike?" "No. Which reminds me. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches. I wonder how Bob's got on. Let's have a look at the wrist." "Pull your left. "Ye--no. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself." said Uncle John. I badly want a pipe. Lunch." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. let me--Done it? Good. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested. but his uncle had already removed the sling." stammered Mike." "Not bad that. recovered himself. caught a crab. When you get to my age you need it. "I hope you don't smoke. They got up. and we'll put in there. He could hear nothing but his own breathing. as he pulled up-stream with strong." After they had watched the match for an hour. "Let's just call at the shop." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself." Uncle John looked over his shoulder. "It's really nothing." said Mike. "Put the rope over that stump." he began. . "That hurt?" he asked. "Geddington 151 for four. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. sing out. The telegram read. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds. Uncle John looked up sharply. Mike was crimson. unskilful stroke.

gaping. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light... Lock-up's at half-past.) "Swear you won't tell him. well. It had struck him as neat and plausible. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. dash it all then. so I thought I might as well let him." . while Mike." Uncle John was silent. (This. swear you won't tell him. where his fate was even now being sealed."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point." "I won't tell him. one may as well tell the truth. It wasn't that. really. Mike told it. "Jove. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat.. Look here. "I know. on. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. That's how it was. There was an exam. I was nearly asleep. let his mind wander to Geddington. would they give him his cap? Supposing. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. I think. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. I won't give you away. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington. Mike said nothing. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. Only----" "Well?" "Oh. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. "May as well tell me." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke." "I ought to be getting back soon." When in doubt. and his uncle sat up.

I should think. . as they reached the school gates. Marsh 58. Don't fall overboard. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. I'm going to shove her off. I wanted to go to sleep." "There'll be another telegram. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets." said Mike. and rejoined his uncle. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed." he said. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat. "Well?" said Uncle John. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. "We won. "By Jove. "It was simply baking at Geddington. It was a longer message this time. only they wouldn't let me. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. then. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. It was the only possible reply."Up with the anchor. "Bob made forty-eight. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. thanks. and they ragged the whole time. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86." he added carelessly. Mike pushed his way through the crowd. I'm done. eh? We are not observed. How's your wrist?" "Oh." Mike worked his way back through the throng. Jackson 48). better. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. Neville-Smith four). Uncle John felt in his pocket. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first." He paused for a moment." Wyatt began to undress.

He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. reviewing the match that night. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. with watercress round it. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. he felt. I was in at the other end. If he dwelt on it. Never saw a clearer case in my life. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. as he lay awake in his cubicle." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. Beastly man to bowl to. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. too. Soothed by these memories. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. Ripping innings bar those two chances. to-day. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. Chap had a go at it. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. And. though. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. he would get insomnia. With great guile he had fed this late cut. He was very fond of Bob. had come to much the same conclusion. A bit lucky. he fell asleep. No first. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. and another chap." Burgess. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling." "Why. Jenkins and Clephane. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. Bob puts them both on the floor. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. He ought to have been out before he'd scored."No. Only one or two thirds. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. can't remember who. Just lost them the match. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. He let their best man off twice in one over. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. when he does give a couple of easy chances." "Most captains would have done. Their umpire. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. off Billy. Bit of luck for Bob.

I believe I should do better in the deep. Bob. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now." "Do you know. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. "Look here. I'm certain the deep would be much better. I can't time them. and hoped for the day. It's simply awful. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. Both of them were. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. I'll practise like mad. he played for the second. I hate the slips. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field." "All right then. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. Try it." "I know." Bob was all remorse. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom." The conversation turned to less pressing topics. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second.chance of reforming. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. I'm frightfully sorry. but I mean. As for Mike. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. found his self-confidence returning slowly. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street." "That one yesterday was right into your hands." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. Bob." "Well. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. accordingly. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . drop by drop. Trevor'll hit me up catches. I shall miss it. I know that if a catch does come. Bob figured on the boundary. This did not affect the bulk of the school. as he stood regarding the game from afar. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. "It's those beastly slip catches. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. I could get time to watch them there. About your fielding. * * * * * In the next two matches. of Seymour's.

disappeared from Society. for chicken-pox. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. squealing louder than any two others. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. was called for. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. The next victim was Marsh. the school doctor. He made his way there. Essentially a man of moods. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. Oakes. and also. would be Shoeblossom. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. and in the dingy back shop. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. He had occasional headaches. he was attending J. Two days later Barry felt queer. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer.Quiet Student. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. where he read _Punch_. and. The professional advice of Dr. Where were his drives now. He. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. at the same moment. He tried the junior day-room. He tried out of doors. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. however necessary such an action might seem to him. and returned to the school. who was top of the school averages. the son of the house. Shoeblossom. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. but people threw cushions at him. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. Upstairs. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . and thought of Life. of the first eleven. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. On the Tuesday afternoon. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. G. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. what was more important. sucked oranges. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. and at the bottom of the heap. Shoeblossom came away. In brief. too. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. Marsh. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. entering the High Street furtively. peace. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six.

so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. But on this particular day. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. Bob. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. I've got the taste in my mouth still. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. They had only been beaten once. too. Have to look after my digestion. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. they failed miserably. The total was a hundred and seven. and I'm alone. for no apparent reason. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up." .elect. Too old now. and the school. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. Some schools do it in nearly every match. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. All sorts of luxuries. three years ago. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. and ate that. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. I remember. and after that the rout began. made a dozen. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. for Neville-Smith. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. batting when the wicket was easier. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. And I can square them. Got through a slice. for rain fell early in the morning. bar the servants. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. did anything to distinguish himself. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. when Wain's won the footer cup. and Mike kept his end up. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. and was not out eleven. and the Incogniti. His food ran out. doubled this. The weather may have had something to do with it. but nobody except Wyatt. batting first on the drying wicket. "Well. going in fourth wicket.

what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam. and sat down. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when." Mike stared. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's. was more at his ease. of course." continued Bob. he would just do it. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly. Mike. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter. I can't say more than that. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. being older. Why? What about?" . He's bound to get in next year. of course. though." "Oh. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. When he had finished. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. Bob. Pity to spoil the record." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. he poured Mike out a cup." "You were all right. But young Mike's all over him as a bat." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this." "Bit better. one wants the best man. We've all been at Wrykyn. Beastly awkward. passed him the bread. He got tea ready. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. "because it is. Still. I don't know." "You get on much better in the deep. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. making desultory conversation the while." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. yes. "Not seen much of each other lately.

" resumed Bob." said Mike. but. 'Well.' said Spence. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything. 'It's rough on Bob. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. and so on. don't let's go to the other extreme. As it isn't me. After all. I heard every word.' 'Yes. and in a year or two. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. and now he had achieved it. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. and that's what he's there for. 'Decidedly M. "Well. but don't feel bound to act on it. in the First room.. "Not at all. Bob. It had been his one ambition. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. sir?' Spence said. now. And so home. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. Well. I'm simply saying what I think. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. and then sheered off myself. Billy said. I waited a bit to give them a good start. on the other hand. He's a shade better than R. he's cricket-master. wiping the sweat off his forehead. what I wanted to see you about was this. I was in the pav. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. and tore across to Wain's." Mike looked at the floor. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. The pav. just now. They shook hands. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. and I picked it up and started reading it." It was the custom at Wrykyn. It's the fortune of war. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. '_I_ think M. and said nothing.'s like a sounding-board. What do you think.' said old Bill." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. Burgess. Billy agreed with him. . of course. I fancy you've won. There was nothing much to _be_ said. So Mike edged out of the room. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. "Thanks. 'I don't know what to do. of course. 'That's just what I think.' he said. rot. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. Spence said. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. I'm jolly glad it's you. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. I couldn't help hearing what they said.'" "Oh. I'll give you my opinion. awfully. sir. Congratulate you. He was sorry for Bob. there'll be no comparison. sir. They thought the place was empty. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle."Well. 'Well. to shake his hand." muttered Mike.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own.

was not. he felt. even on a summer morning. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. dash it. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. and this silent alarm proved effective. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. as it always does. As he passed it. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets.--W. This was to the good. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels. he found that it was five minutes past six. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. a prospect that appealed to him. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep.30 to-morrow morning. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6." "Oh. Until he returned. F." said Mike. He took his quarter of an hour. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. And Wyatt was at Bisley. . therefore. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house.-S. orders were orders. It wouldn't do. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. Still. Mike could tell nobody. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. Reaching out a hand for his watch. and a little more. It would have to be done. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team.

What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert." he said. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. The painful interview took place after breakfast. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. by the way. inconvenienced--in short. yes. he said to himself. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. that Mike. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. being ordered about. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. And outside in the cricket-field. in coming to his den. would be bad enough. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. he felt. dash it all. "Young Jackson. and jolly quick. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. But logic is of no use. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. and glared. Now he began to waver. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. It was time. One knows that delay means inconvenience. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. Who _was_ he. Make the rest of the team fag about. Mike thought he would take another minute. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. and waited. "look here. he asked himself. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. looking at him. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. One would have felt. Here was he. Was this right. Didn't you see the notice?" . But not a chap who. I want to know what it all means. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. One simply lies there.

turn up or not. Awfully embarrassing. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. Happy thought: over-slept himself. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment." "Oh. this. "Yes. and I've seen it coming on. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you. That's got nothing to do with it. but he rather fancied not.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. That's what you've got. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. I've had my eye on you for some time. as you please. did you? Well." said the Gazeka shrilly. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. You've got swelled head. young man. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary. you do. You think the place belongs to you. You go siding about as if you'd bought it." said Mike indignantly. "Then you frightful kid. Frightful swelled head. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things." said Mike. "Do--you--see. He mentioned this. you think you can do what you like. It was not according to his complicated. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. and I'm captain of it. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself." "I don't. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. See?" Mike said nothing. you went to sleep again. The rather large grain of truth in what . "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. "Six!" "Five past. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. The point is that you're one of the house team. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. just listen to me. Just because you've got your second.

I'll go down and look. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. Wyatt was worn out. Zam-buk's what you want. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. Well. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. What one really wants here is a row of stars. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. Wyatt came back. Very heady. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target." He left the dormitory. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. "Do you see?" he asked again. as he had nearly done once before. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life." he said." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. Always at it. He set his teeth. A-ah!" He put down the glass. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. I didn't hit the bull every time. Failing that. for a beaker full of the warm south. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. Mike's jaw set more tightly." . as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. and stared at a photograph on the wall. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. "What's your trouble?" he asked. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. and I suppose it always will be. full of the true. "Oh. and surveyed Mike.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. but cheerful. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. and his feelings were hurt. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. If it's a broken heart. water will do. "That's the cats.

" Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. and say. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. did he buttonhole you on your way to school. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep. Otherwise. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. a word in your ear. Cheers from the audience. that 'ere is. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . look here. 'Jackson. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down." "I didn't turn up. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in." he said. you've got to obey him. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. blood as you are at cricket. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. That's discipline. while I get dropped on if I break out." "I mean. but." "In passing. The speaker then paused. my gentle che-ild. "Such body. If he's captain. I defy any one to. and. "And why. It's too early in the morning.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. and." "No. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. You stick on side. really." "I like you jawing about discipline. drew a deep breath. "Nothing like this old '87 water. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it. you stick it on. silent natures. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator." "Why?" "I don't know. He winked in a friendly way." said Mike morosely. "I say.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. There are some things you simply can't do. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment."He said I stuck on side. I don't know. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. putting down the jug. 'Talking of side. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong." "What! Why?" "Oh. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding. you'll have a rotten time here.

This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. but it isn't done. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. but it generally did. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. Wrykyn. Ripton. as far as games are concerned. About my breaking out. But this did not happen often. There was no actual championship competition. for the first time in his life. and St. before the Ripton match. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. would go down before Wilborough. Geddington. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. Harrow. Paul's are a third. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. young Jackson. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. Haileybury. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. I don't know why. or. "me. of which so much is talked and written. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. His feelings were curiously mixed. Dulwich. really meant. That was the match with Ripton. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. having beaten Ripton. but each played each. In this way. If Wyatt. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. That night. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. Tonbridge. Until you learn that. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. the other you mustn't ever break." he concluded modestly. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. and Wilborough formed a group." Mike made no reply. When you're a white-haired old man like me. He would have perished rather than admit it. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. cheerful disregard of. if possible. or Wrykyn. rather.saying--just so. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. I thank you. Eton. . he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. most forms of law and order.

accordingly. Burgess was glad the thing was settled." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. Spence. feeling that life was good. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. he postponed the thing. As it was. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets." said Burgess. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. and he had done well in the earlier matches. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. The more he thought of it. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. he would have kept Bob In. engrossed in his book. He could write it after tea. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. . and he hated to have to do it. and biz is biz. He had fairly earned his place. The report was more than favourable. and sprint. And. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn." "Banzai!" said Burgess. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. There were two vacancies. as the poet has it. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. "Well held. After all. and held it. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. and Mr. there was a week before the match.Burgess. In case of accident. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. Finally he had consulted Mr. the sorrier he was for him. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. It was a difficult catch. "Pleasure is pleasure. But. Bob got to it with one hand. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. * * * * * When school was over. With him at short slip. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. If he could have pleased himself. Spence had voted for Mike. One gave him no trouble. From small causes great events do spring. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. but he was steady. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team.

"Hullo. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. but it's all right. and became the cricket captain again." said the Gazeka. "What's up?" inquired Burgess. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. on being told of Mike's slackness. of course. did not enter his mind. "Young Jackson. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. towards the end of the evening. There are many kinds of walk. do you mean? Oh. He'll be able to play on Saturday. Firby-Smith. He suppressed his personal feelings. "You're hot stuff in the deep." "Oh. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal." "Easy when you're only practising." "I've just been to the Infirmary. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. That Burgess would feel." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. "This way for Iron Wills. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again. Burgess passed on. as who should say." There was. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation." he explained. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. but one has one's personal ambitions. it may be mentioned. his mind full of Bob once more." "Good. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. in fact. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. What hard luck it was! There was he. It was the cricket captain who. He was glad for the sake of the school. "I couldn't get both hands to it." said Bob awkwardly. and all the time the team was filled up. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house. and so he proceeded to tell . A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement." said Bob. nothing. It was decidedly a blow. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist." "The frightful kid cut it this morning.

Bob stared after him. Since writing was invented. He looked at the paper. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. going out. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. Mike scarcely heard him. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" .it in detail. met Bob coming in. there had never been an R. hurrying. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. as he was rather late. Bob. Bob. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. "Congratulate you. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. There was no possibility of mistake. Bob had beaten him on the tape. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. "Congratulate you. "Hard luck!" said somebody. therefore. and passed on. than the one on that list. Trevor came out of the block." he said. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. As he stared. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. * * * * * When. that looked less like an M.

neither speaking. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin."Seen what?" "Why the list. delicately. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. "Got a letter from mother this morning. feeling very ill. "Thanks awfully. Mike. it's jolly rummy. You're a cert. if you want to read it." he said awkwardly." said Bob. "Congratulate you. Bob snatched gladly at the subject. I showed you the last one. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease." . Bob. Not much in it. with equal awkwardness. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument." said Mike. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. There was a short silence. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. You've got your first. "I believe there's a mistake. "Jolly glad you've got it." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. They moved slowly through the cloisters. Just then. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation. came down the steps. Here it is. "Anyhow. It'll be something to do during Math. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. and Burgess agree with him." said Mike." "My--what? you're rotting. very long way off. as the post was late. next year seems a very. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school. for next year. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. I'm not." "Thanks. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike." "No. you'll have three years in the first. Go and look. When one has missed one's colours." "Hope so. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears. No reason why he shouldn't. This was no place for him. Trevor moved on." "Well." The thing seemed incredible.

in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. Haven't had time to look at it yet. sitting up and taking nourishment. I'll give it you in the interval. for the first time in her life. there appeared on his face a worried." Mike resented the tone." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. seeing that the conversation was . too. that. and went up to the headmaster. He looked round. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. he stopped. "Read that. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. and Mike noticed. He seemed to have something on his mind. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. somebody congratulated Bob again. I'll show it you outside. and which in time disappears altogether. A brief spell of agony. The disappointment was still there. When they had left the crowd behind. "Hullo. seeing Mike. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. but followed.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. as it were. These things are like kicks on the shin." "Why not here?" "Come on. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. As they went out on the gravel." "No."Marjory wrote. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it. and. Mike heard the words "English Essay. it's for me all right. even an irritated look." he said. but it was lessened." said Mike amiably." "After you. with some surprise. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. Bob appeared curiously agitated. "Got that letter?" "Yes." and. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. Mike was. "What's up?" asked Mike.

Phyllis has a cold.-"I hope you are quite well.--This has been a frightful fag to write. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. He read it during school. with a style of her own. and it's _the_ match of the season. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. Why don't you do that? "M. and display it to the best advantage. Well. She was a breezy correspondent. lead up to it. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. I am quite well. it .apparently going to be one of some length. and ceased to wonder.S. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him. She was jolly sick about it. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran)." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. I told her it served her right.S. Bob had had cause to look worried. it will be all through Mike. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory.P. under the desk. Have you got your first? If you have. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. capped the headmaster and walked off. He put the missive in his pocket. Reggie made a duck." There followed a P. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. "P.

"I mean. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. Besides. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. "I did. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids.. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. Bob couldn't do much." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me." he broke off hotly. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. So it came out. and Burgess was not likely to alter it. "Did you read it?" "Yes. he might at least have whispered them. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. is it all rot. "How do you mean?" said Mike. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all.." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. Marjory meant well." said Mike. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. "I know I ought to be grateful. The team was filled up. I suppose I am. Still. it was beastly awkward. and all that. but she had put her foot right in it. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. If he was going to let out things like that. I don't know. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh." . and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it." he said at last. I couldn't choke him off. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way. He came down when you were away at Geddington. They met at the nets. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all.." "Well. and would insist on having a look at my arm. "Well?" said Bob. that's how it was." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. You know." "I didn't think you'd ever know.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. "Of course.

Or. who sat down on an acorn one day. admitting himself beaten. well. and had a not unpleasant time." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. anyhow. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. when he awoke." He sidled off. "Anyhow." said Bob to himself. "I must see Burgess about it. When affairs get into a real tangle. sixty feet from the ground. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. Others try to grapple with them." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. I decide to remain here. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny." "I'm hanged if it is. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right." "Oh. "I shall get in next year all right. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. and happened to doze. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. He thought he would go home. This is Philosophy. it's all over now. and slides out of such situations. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. if one does not do that. but it never does any good. He looked helplessly at Mike. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. "Besides." he said. When?" "That Firby-Smith business." "What about it?" "Well. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable."I don't remember." Which he did. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. and it grew so rapidly that. Half a second. "Well. but. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. The sensible man realises this. he altered his plans. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. . finding this impossible." Mike said. "Well. simply to think no more about them." added Mike. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out.

Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. I could easily fake up some excuse. if they are to be done at school. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. like the man in the oak-tree. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. of course. Imitate this man. in it. but why should you do anything? You're all right. And Burgess. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. and here you _are_. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. These things. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. It would not be in the picture. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative." . after Mike's fashion. now it's up. "But I must do something. what you say doesn't help us out much." "I do. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. at the moment. You simply keep on saying you're all right. though. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. At which period he remarked a rum business. and took the line of least resistance. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. seeing that the point is. in council. Though. Very sporting of your brother and all that. It's me. confessed to the same to solve the problem." said Bob. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. Bob should have done so. if possible. "Still. consulted on the point. might find some way of making things right for everybody. have to be carried through stealthily. Tell you what. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. It's not your fault." Bob agreed. Besides. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. I don't know if it's occurred to you. "I suppose you can't very well.

" "Smith oughtn't to have told you. So you see how it is. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . As the distance between them lessened. and then the top of your head'll come off. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. So long." said Neville-Smith. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that." "I don't care. so out he went. Not that you did. He's a young slacker. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. At any rate. expansive grin. all right. that's why you've got your first instead of him. Wyatt. as the Greek exercise books say. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours." "Mind the step." "He isn't so keen. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you." "Well. with a brilliant display of front teeth. whatever happens. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board.. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. You sweated away. but a slack field wants skinning. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. but supposing you had." "Oh. I feel like--I don't know what." said Bob. A bad field's bad enough. That slight smile of yours will meet behind. thanks for reminding me." "Anyhow. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. "Thanks. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board." "I'll tell you what you look like. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. If you really want to know. if you don't look out. I've got my first. if that's any good to you." said Burgess. he did tell me.

It'll be the only one lighted up. Still. for goodness sake. I get on very well. a sudden compunction seized upon . I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. which I have--well. You can roll up. We shall have rather a have at home in honour of my getting my first. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me. anyhow it's to-night." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. All the servants'll have gone to bed. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. You'll see the window of my room." "But one or two day-boys are coming. And Beverley. eleven'll do me all right. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. if I did.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do. They all funked it. After all. I'm going to get the things now. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders." "They ought to allow you a latch-key. I expect. It's just above the porch." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make." "You _will_ turn up. Anything for a free feed in these hard times. I shall manage it." As Wyatt was turning away. Clephane is. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. nor iron bars a cage." "The school is going to the dogs. if you like." "Said it wasn't good enough. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. Make it a bit earlier. Still. I needn't throw a brick. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven." "Good man." "Yes. for one. Heave a pebble at it." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way." "The race is degenerating." "So will the glass--with a run. can't you?" "Delighted. and I'll come down. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. I'll try to do as little damage as possible." "No.

"I say. I've used all mine. and the wall by the .Neville-Smith." "Oh. do you? I mean." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. No expense has been spared. but he did not state his view of the case. Ginger-beer will flow like water. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. merriest day of all the glad New Year. we must make the best of things. "Don't you worry about me." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. He called him back. Still." "I shall do my little best not to be. All you have to do is to open the window and step out. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first." said Wyatt. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence. They've no thought for people's convenience here." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. getting back. you always are breaking out at night. If so. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. "What's up?" he asked. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. you don't think it's too risky. though. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. "but this is the maddest." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. APPLEBY "You may not know it. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place. Rather tricky work. I've got to climb two garden walls." "Don't go getting caught. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row. I don't know if he keeps a dog. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. that's all right. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached.

He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. but the room had got hot and stuffy. "What a night!" he said to himself. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. Appleby. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. Wain's. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. There he paused. They were all dark. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. the master who had the house next to Mr. From here he could see the long garden. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. Much better have flowers. The window of his study was open. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. He was fond of his garden. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. Crossing this. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. and was in the lane within a minute. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. This was the route which he took to-night. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. and get a decent show for one's money in . It was a glorious July night. for instance. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. He was in plenty of time. and let himself out of the back door. it is true. Why not.potting-shed was a feline club-house. whatever you did to it. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. dusted his trousers. true. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. Appleby. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. At present there remained much to be done. ran lightly across it. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. which had suffered on the two walls. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. sniffing as he walked. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. Then he decided on the latter. he climbed another wall. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. There was a full moon. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt.

If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. close his eyes or look the other way. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. Mr. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. he would have done so. Appleby had left his chair. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. He paused. it was not serious. Breaking out at night. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. through the headmaster. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. but he may use his discretion. It was not an easy question. the extent of the damage done. With a sigh of relief Mr. As far as he could see. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. and remember that he is in a position of trust. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. treat it as if it had never happened. was a different thing altogether. He receives a salary for doing this duty. with the aid of the moonlight. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. The surprise. and. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. He went his way openly. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. liked and respected by boys and masters. It was on another plane. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. and rose to his feet. however. of course. Appleby that first awoke to action. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak.summer at any rate. . on hands and knees. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. Sentiment. Appleby. to the parents. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. He knew that there were times when a master might. he had recognised him. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. He always played the game. Appleby. without blame. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. As he dropped into the lane. and indirectly. wondering how he should act. examining. bade him forget the episode. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was.

Mr. only it's something important. I'm afraid. . * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree." And. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border. Mr. Wain?" he said." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. Wain. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. and squeezed through into the room. Appleby. He turned down his lamp. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. "I'll smoke. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. Mr." Mr. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. greatly to Mr. The blind shot up. if you don't mind.This was the conclusion to which Mr. Exceedingly so. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. The thing still rankled. but they would have to wait. I'll climb in through here. Appleby. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. shall I? No need to unlock the door. in the middle of which stood Mr. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. He could not let the matter rest where it was. like a sea-beast among rocks." began Mr. He tapped on the window." "Sorry. and walked round to Wain's." said Mr. Wain. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. "Can I have a word with you. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. About Wyatt. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table.

"I ought to report it to the headmaster." "Good-night. It's like daylight out of doors." Mr. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers." Mr. He was wondering what would happen. Appleby." "I will. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster." "He's not there now. That is a very good idea of yours. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster. Good-night. "Let's leave it at that. Got a pile of examination papers to look over. He had taken the only possible course. Yes." "No. You can deal with the thing directly. That is certainly the course I should pursue. He hoped ." "I don't see why. Appleby."James! In your garden! Impossible. Sorry to have disturbed you. a little nettled. He would have no choice. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. Appleby. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. Appleby offered no suggestion. Wain on reflection. then. You are not going?" "Must. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. Appleby. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence." "So was I. Dear me. "A good deal. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory. Exceedingly so. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. "What shall I do?" Mr. You are quite right. and have it out with him. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. It isn't like an ordinary case." "You astound me. Why. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. this is most extraordinary." "Bars can be removed. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents." "There is certainly something in what you say." said Mr. sit down. I am astonished. If you come to think of it." said Mr." "Possibly." "You must have been mistaken. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. Tackle the boy when he comes in. and. You're the parent.

The moon shone in through the empty space. It would be a thousand pities. a sorrowful.. But the other bed was empty. it was true. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. He took a candle. He had been working hard. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. Wyatt he had regarded. therefore. He liked Wyatt. Mr. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up. least of all in those many years younger than himself. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. It was not. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. If further proof had been needed. thinking. Appleby had been right. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. Mike was there. asleep. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. he felt. He blew the candle out. he would hardly have returned yet. and the night was warm. and walked quietly upstairs. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. It was not all roses. broken by various small encounters.. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. Lately. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. . and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. so much as an exasperated. and waited there in the semi-darkness. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. This breaking-out.. pondering over the news he had heard. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. one of the bars was missing from the window. He grunted. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality.they would not. If he had gone out. and then consider the episode closed. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. the life of an assistant master at a public school. by silent but mutual agreement. and nothing else. Mr.. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. he reflected wrathfully.. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. if he were to be expelled. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened.. was the last straw. The light of the candle fell on both beds. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. Mr. as a complete nuisance.

* * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. The time had come to put an end to it. and rubbed his hands together. "James!" said Mr. and that immediately. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. immediately. "Hullo. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. Wyatt dusted his knees. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. "Hullo!" said Mike. asking them to receive his step-son at once. At that moment Mr. . There was literally no way out. His voice sounded ominously hollow. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. But he should leave. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. and the letter should go by the first post next day. father!" he said pleasantly. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. is that you. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. "Go to sleep. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. Wyatt should not be expelled. as the house-master shifted his position. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. Then he seemed to recover himself. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him." snapped the house-master. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. He lay down again without a word. Wain relit his candle. Wain. Mike saw him start. Mr. Jackson. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. but could hear nothing.

Me sweating to get in quietly. About an hour. now. it seemed a long silence. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. my little Hyacinth. "But. sir. The swift and sudden boot.' We ." "I got a bit of a start myself. Exceedingly astonished. Then Mr. sir. "I shall talk to you in my study." "What'll he do. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. I say. I suppose." said Wyatt. lying in bed. Mike began to get alarmed. rolling with laughter. "Yes. "That reminds me. Speaking at a venture. He flung himself down on his bed. speaking with difficulty. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night." "Yes. do you think?" "Ah. Wyatt!" said Mike." said Wyatt at last." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. I say. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. Follow me there. really. holding his breath. To Mike. what!" "But. "I say. it's awful. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. Wain spoke. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. "It's all right. "You have been out. "I am astonished. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us." He left the room. I shall be sorry to part with you. Suppose I'd better go down." said Wyatt.

" The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a ." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. sir. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. 'tis well! Lead on. "Only my slipper. may I inquire. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. out of the house. "Sit down.shall meet at Philippi. Mr. Wyatt sat down. Wain took up a pen. and began to tap the table." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. That'll be me. I follow. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_. minions." "And. Don't go to sleep. Wain jumped nervously. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter. "Well?" "I haven't one. at that hour?" "I went for a walk. sir. This is my Moscow. Well. "Well." he said." * * * * * In the study Mr. James. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. choking sob. "Exceedingly." "Not likely. sir. "It slipped." Mr. sir. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. then. James?" Wyatt said nothing. I suppose I'd better go down." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. Where are me slippers? Ha." "What?" "Yes." explained Wyatt." "What were you doing out of your dormitory." "The fact is----" said Wyatt.

but this is a far more serious matter. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. approvingly. sir." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. James. ignoring the interruption. even were I disposed to do so. At once.motor-car. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry." continued Mr. James. . You must leave the school. Exceedingly so. exceedingly." said Wyatt. Only it _was_ sending me off. "I wish you wouldn't do that. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. watching it. and resumed the thread of his discourse. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No." "You will leave directly I receive his letter. Wain suspended tapping operations. "I am sorry. Wain." "Of course. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. I mean. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. Do you understand? That is all. It is not fitting. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways." Wyatt nodded. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. In a minute or two he would be asleep. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour. It's sending me to sleep. father. Wyatt. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him." said Wyatt laconically. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected." "I need hardly say. to see this attitude in you. It is impossible for me to overlook it. Tap like that. they only gain an extra fortnight of me." Mr. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. "As you know. You will not go to school to-morrow. "It is expulsion.

" "What? When?" "He's left already." he said. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon." Burgess's first thought. Burgess came up. "Oh. I shoot off almost immediately. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. here you are. as befitted a good cricket captain." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun." said Wyatt cheerfully. all amongst the ink and ledgers. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. "What happened?" "We chatted. yes. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. Mike. as an actual spectator of the drama. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr. . To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. was for his team." Mike was miserably silent. "Buck up. was in great request as an informant. or some rot. He isn't coming to school again. and began to undress. father. "Anybody seen young--oh. he's got to leave. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda."No. So why worry?" Mike was still silent." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. but it failed to comfort him. Wain were public property.

There was. that's the part he bars most. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. "I say." "He'll find it rather a change. Hope he does. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . Not unless he comes to the dorm. and he's taken him away from the school. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. Look here. Bob was the next to interview him. though!" he added after a pause. Wyatt was his best friend. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. during the night. without enthusiasm. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. Mike!" said Bob. withdrawn. young Jackson. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. "All the same."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. "Hullo. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match. however. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received." "I should like to say good-bye. anyway. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. last night after Neville-Smith's." "All right. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed." continued Burgess. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. one exception to the general rule. you see. I expect. You'll play on Saturday. his pal. They met in the cloisters. You know." said Mike. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. As a matter of fact." agreed Mike." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine.

Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval." . and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished." "Neville-Smith! Why. That's all. In extra on Saturday. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. "It was absolutely my fault." said Mike. with a forced and grisly calm. "It was all my fault. Well. "What's up?" asked Bob. "If it hadn't been for me. way. Only our first. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. "I say. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. I don't know. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. They walked on without further Wain's gate." said Burgess. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it. Jackson." Mike was not equal to the task conscience.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room." he said at length. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon. as far as I can see. "Nothing much. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. Bob. "Only that. this wouldn't have happened. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit." "Oh. where Mike left him. plunged in meditation. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. by the way. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time.

C. "Very. He's a jolly good shot. I know. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. So Mr. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. made. "I say. well. three years ago." "By Jove. As a matter of fact. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. his father had gone over there for a visit. I've thought of something. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. he'd jump at anything. "I wanted to see you."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. where countless sheep lived and had their being. for lack of anything better to say.C. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. I may hold a catch for a change. Jolly hot team of M. He never chucked the show altogether. Bob went on his way to the nets. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. It's about Wyatt. to start with. Like Mr. Mike. I'll write to father to-night. And he can ride. who believed in taking no chances. All these things seemed to show that Mr. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. presumably on business.C. too. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt. I should think. If it comes off. did he?" Mike. and once. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. as most other boys of his age would have been. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. glad to be there again." said Bob. Mike was just putting on his pads." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank.C." Burgess grunted. Spenlow. or was being. he had a partner. the Argentine Republic." "Oh. Wain's dressing-room. Stronger than the one we drew with. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. from all accounts. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers." "By Jove. . He must be able to work it. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. They whacked the M. that's to say.

Wyatt's letter was longer." After which a Mr. Well.. sir. but that. In any case he would buy him a lunch.. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match. Mr. but to the point." "Cricketer?" "Yes. sir. by a Beginner. and subsequently take in bundles to the . sir. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit." "H'm . sir. Sportsman?" "Yes. Jackson's letter was short. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week." "H'm . He had first had a brief conversation with the manager. sir. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability." "Play football?" "Yes. which had run as follows: "Mr.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield. there was no reason why something should not be done for him." "H'm . These letters he would then stamp. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger." "Everything?" "Yes. Racquets?" "Yes... He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer. sir. you won't get any more of it now. He said that he hoped something could be managed." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. Wyatt?" "Yes... in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters.

so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. But it doesn't seem in my line. "I should win the toss to-day. sir." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. to be among the ruck. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office." said Burgess.C. At eleven-thirty. inspecting the wicket with Mr. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. To do only averagely well. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. I suppose. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. Spence. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius. "Or even Wyatt. It was a day on which to win the toss. Even twenty." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. It would just suit him. if it got the school out of a tight place. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. Mind you make a century. Spence. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. The Ripton match was a special event. by J. when the match was timed to begin. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. Wyatt.' which is a sort of start.' So long. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. and go in first. Burgess. Burgess." wrote Wyatt. was not slow to recognise this fact. "Just what I was thinking. "I should cook the accounts. as a member of the staff. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle." said Mr. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground.C." Mr. 'Hints for Young Criminals. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. if the sun comes out. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. would be as useless as not playing at all. match. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. Burgess?" . except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. this. "Who will go on first with you. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after office. if I were you. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. Honours were heaped upon him. Still. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. It had stopped late at night. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. There were twelve colours given three years ago. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day.

I suppose?" "Yes--after us. I must tell the fellows to look out for it. He was crocked when they came here. You call. Mac. On a dry. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. They had been at the same private school. "One consolation is. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling." "Oh. Plays racquets for them too. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. The other's yours." "Heads. though. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. that's a . but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this." said Burgess."Who do you think. This end. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. I believe. "It's a nuisance too. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it. It's a hobby of mine. I don't know of him." "I should. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. I think. of the Bosanquet type. so I was bound to win to-day. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads." "Tails it is." "Well." said Burgess. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. "Certainly. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. "but I think we'll toss. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now. were old acquaintances." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance." "I must win the toss. Looks as if it were going away. and comes in instead. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip. well." said Burgess ruefully. the Ripton captain. And. above all. "We'll go in first. He's a pretty useful chap all round." "You'll put us in." "I know the chap." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. A boy called de Freece. Ellerby. win the toss. He wasn't in the team last year. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock. it might have been all right." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball." "I don't think a lot of that." said Maclaine. I've lost the toss five times running. about our batting.

They plodded on. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. but it means that wickets will fall. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. and Bob. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. run out. The change worked. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. The pitch had begun to play tricks. Twenty came in ten minutes. The policy proved successful for a time. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. So Ripton went in to hit. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. Buck up and send some one in. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. Dashing tactics were laid aside. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. which was now shining brightly. They meant to force the game. Maclaine. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. seventy-four for three wickets. as also happened now. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. he was compelled to tread cautiously. held it. The sun. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. Burgess began to look happier. Then . Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. and was certain to get worse. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. gave place to Grant. Another hour of play remained before lunch. Burgess.comfort. as it generally does. and let's get at you. as he would want the field paved with it. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. as it did on this occasion. The score mounted rapidly. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. At sixty Ellerby. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. but the score. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. but which did not always break." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready.

when the wicket is bad. And when he bowled a straight ball. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. and with it the luncheon interval. He had made twenty-eight. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. Every run was invaluable now. who had gone on again instead of Grant.Ellerby. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. when Ellerby. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. but he had also a very accurate eye. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. it was not straight. swiping at it with a bright smile. found his leg-stump knocked back. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. a semicircular stroke. and de Freece. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. and it will be their turn to bat. His record score. did what Burgess had failed to do. So far it was anybody's game. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. when a quarter to two arrived. missed his second. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. and his one hit. He bowled a straight. they resent it. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. The other batsman played out the over. for the last ten minutes. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. The last man had just gone to the wickets. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. That period which is always so dangerous. the ten minutes before lunch. the slow bowler. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. medium-paced yorker. Just a ball or two to the last man. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. as they walked . he explained to Mike. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. it was not a yorker. came off with distressing frequency. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. A four and a three to de Freece.

hard condition. "Thought the thing was going to break. Berry. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. For goodness sake. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. "Morris is out. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. A grim determination to do their best.-w. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand." said Burgess helpfully.-b. He thought it was all right." "Hear that. The tragedy started with the very first ball. "It's that googly man. First ball. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. "That chap'll have Berry. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. and make for the pavilion. Berridge. but it didn't. if he doesn't look out. On a bad wicket--well." said Burgess blankly. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. Morris was the tenth case. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. Hullo. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. "L. would be anything record-breaking. He breaks like sin all over the shop. when done.-w.-b. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred the pavilion. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true." he said. he said." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. But Berridge survived the ordeal. stick a bat in the way. and not your legs. It would have been a gentle canter for them. You must look out for that. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. rather than confidence that their best. But ordinary standards would not apply here. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. Berry? He doesn't always break. . for this or any ground.

and scoring a couple of twos off it. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. broke it. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. we might have a chance. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. Bob was the next man in. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries.. but this the next ball. and the second tragedy occurred. but it was considerably better than one for two. jumping out to drive.. if we can only stay in. The wicket'll get better. "The only thing is. No. "It's getting trickier every minute." said Ellerby. He got up. he was smartly at thirty. Last man duck. The cloud began to settle again. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. "One for two. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. Mike was silent and thoughtful. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. Ten for two was not good. He started to play forward. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. He was in after Bob. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then." . He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's." Ellerby echoed the remark. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. The last of the over had him in two minds. and took off his blazer. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. Mike nodded. Ellerby took off his pads. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. he isn't." he said. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. "This is all right. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. He had then. With the score Freece. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. He sent them down medium-pace. stumped. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. The voice of the scorer. Bob's out!. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion.This brought Marsh to the batting end. By George.

as if it were some one else's. A howl of delight went up from the school. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed.. Oh. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. Jackson. 5. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. The wicket-keeper. When he had gone out to bat against the M." "All right. The melancholy youth put up the figures. He came to where Mike was sitting. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. Mike. Berridge was out by a yard. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. had fumbled the ball. "I'm going to shove you down one. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here." said Ellerby. as Ellerby had done. the batsmen crossed. and had nearly met the same fate. If only somebody would knock him off his length. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke..Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. ." said Mike." said Ellerby. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. 12. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. however." said Mike. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. I believe we might win yet." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. more by accident than by accurate timing. "Forty-one for four. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist. 54. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. which was repeated. "That's the way I was had.C. But now his feelings were different. "Good man." he said. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. There was no sense of individuality.C. was not conscious of any particular nervousness.. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school." "Bob's broken his egg. on the board. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. you silly ass. Every little helps. _fortissimo_. and try and knock that man de Freece off. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. "I shall go in next myself and swipe." said Ellerby. He was cool. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. when.

It pitched slightly to leg. . Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were.-b. and he had smothered them. a comfortable three. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. and stepped back. and whipped in quickly. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. The ball hit his right pad. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. Joe would be in his element.Fitness. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. The next ball was of the same length. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. Mike jumped out. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. They had been well pitched up. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. But something seemed to whisper to him. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. apparently.-w. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. The umpire shook his head. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. He knew what to do now. and not short enough to take liberties with. considering his pace. And Mike took after Joe. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. and hit it before it had time to break. De Freece said nothing. to do with actual health. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. but this time off the off-stump. finer players. It has nothing. He felt that he knew where he was now. that he was at the top of his batting form. as he settled himself to face the bowler. Indeed. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. Mike had faced half-left. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. or very little. in school matches.

) But this season his batting had been spasmodic." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. and the wicket was getting easier. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. thence to ninety. nor Grant. or he's certain to get out. "Don't say that. The last ball of the over. He survived an over from de Freece. for neither Ashe. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. he lifted over the other boundary. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. was a promising rather than an effective bat. It was a long-hop on the off. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. Mike could see him licking his lips. Apparently. the score mounted to eighty. and de Freece's pet googly. a half-volley to leg. (Two years later. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. For himself he had no fear now. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive." "You ass. mainly by singles. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. however. In the present case. Practically they had only one." said Ellerby. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. His departure upset the scheme of things. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. and so. He had made twenty-six. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. And. that this was his day. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. he made a lot of runs. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. "Sixty up. as the umpire signalled another no-ball." said Berridge. He might possibly get out off his next ball. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. But Mike did not get out. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. . Henfrey. and made twenty-one. to a hundred. To-day he never looked like settling down. the next man in. He had an excellent style. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. but he was uncertain. but he was full of that conviction. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. There was nervousness written all over him. in the pavilion. At a hundred and four.

"For goodness sake. but this happened now. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. The fast bowler. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account.. Forty to win! A large order. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. and he would have been run out. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. I shall get outed first ball. But each time luck was with him.. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. But the sixth was of a different kind. Could he go up to him and explain that he. "collar the bowling all you know. or we're done. taken up a moment later all round the ground. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. It rolled in the direction of third man. he stopped it. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. but even so. Jackson. "Come on. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. . was well-meaning but erratic. But it was going to be done. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. Mike took them." "All right. Another fraction of a second. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. The wicket was almost true again now." said the umpire. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. The last ball of the over he mishit. "Over. But he did not score. A distant clapping from the pavilion. announced that he had reached his fifty. it all but got through Mike's defence. and it was possible to take liberties. and a school prefect to boot. The next over was doubly sensational." he whispered. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen.. As it was. and set his teeth.He was not kept long in suspense. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end." said Mike." shouted Grant. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end.

by the way?" "Eighty-three." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny." continued he. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important." said Maclaine. For four balls he baffled the attack. He bowled rippingly.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. The fifth curled round his bat. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . It was young Jackson." "The funny part of it is. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. Mike's knees trembled. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. Mike had got the bowling. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. A bail fell silently to the ground. but determined. I say. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. The next moment the crisis was past. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. The school broke into one great howl of joy." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. and rolled back down the pitch. It was an awe-inspiring moment. There were still seven runs between them and victory." said Maclaine. rough luck on de Freece. Brother of the other one. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. Grant looked embarrassed. and touched the off-stump. and the bowling was not de Freece's. A great stillness was over all the ground. * * * * * "Good game. Point and the slips crowded round.

"Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. through the bread-and-milk. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder." . including Gladys Maud. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. "There's a letter from Wyatt. Mrs." He opened the letter and began to read. but was headed off." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. "Bushrangers. who had duly secured the stakes. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper." added Phyllis." explained Gladys Maud. but expects to be fit again shortly. "Is there?" said Mike. interested. Mike. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. "Bush-ray. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. in a victory for Marjory. The rest. "Sorry I'm late. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock." said Phyllis. Jackson was reading letters. Jackson) had resulted. Mr. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man. referred to in a previous chapter. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee." "With a bushranger. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. The hour being nine-fifteen." "I wish Mike would come and open it. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. He's been wounded in a duel. Jackson. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep." began Gladys Maud. "Buck up. bush-ray. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. Mike's place was still empty. bush-ray. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them." said Mr." said Ella. The Jacksons were breakfasting. "Bush-ray." said Marjory. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman." she shouted. Mike read on. "He gives no details. conversationally. had settled down to serious work.It was a morning in the middle of September.

. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. and so it was. I thought he was killed at first." said Phyllis. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. but it turned out it was only his leg. and coming back." said Mike. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. pulled out our revolvers. I got going then. After a bit we overtook him.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. he wanted to ride through our place. proceeded to cut the fence. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder.. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. It happened like this. so excuse bad writing. That's the painful story. and that's when the trouble began. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . Missed the first shot. Hurt like sin afterwards. "Anyhow. and missed him clean every time. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. it was practically a bushranger. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. and tooled after him. so I shall have to stop. summing up. and loosed off. A chap called Chester."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. which had fallen just by where I came down. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. He fired as we came up. and go through that way. and his day's work was done. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. We nipped on to a couple of horses. This is what he says. an Old Wykehamist. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. which has crocked me for the time being. So this rotter. and I were dipping sheep close by. I picked it up. instead of shifting off. and dropped poor old Chester. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. "No. and it was any money on the Gaucho. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. Here you are.." said Marjory. Jackson.. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. Only potted him in the leg. Chester was unconscious. Well. "I told you it was a duel. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. so he came to us and told us what had happened.. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. Jackson. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences.. a good chap who can't help being ugly. I say.

that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad. Mike. She was fond of her other brothers. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. the meal was nearly over. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her." "No. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. as Mr. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents." ." "Have you? Thanks awfully. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer." said Marjory. as usual." Marjory was bustling about. even for Joe. But he was late. Jackson had disappeared." she said. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. that's a comfort. Jackson had gone into the kitchen. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. taking his correspondence with him. fetching and carrying for Mike. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody." "He didn't mean it really. "I'm a bit late. she would do it only as a favour.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. looked on in a detached sort of way. Father didn't say anything. "I say. while Marjory. It's the first I've had from Appleby. Blake used to write when you were in his form. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face. Mike." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. who had put her hair up a fortnight before." she said. When he came down on this particular morning. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. Mr. and did the thing thoroughly. jumping up as he entered. She had adopted him at an early age. He looked up interested. but Mike was her favourite. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock." said Mike philosophically." Mike seemed concerned. Mrs. though for the others. as she always did. "Your report came this morning. "Hullo. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you.

who looked on Mike as his own special invention. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature." Mike's jaw fell slightly. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably." he said. Saunders." "Where?" "He's in the study. however. Master Mike. By the way. and now he had the strength as well. was delighted. Why. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. Everybody says you are. "Oh." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. appalled by the fear of losing his form. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the .C. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. "You _are_. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report."What ho!" interpolated Mike. From time to time. She was kept busy. Let's go and see." was his muttered exclamation. It was early in the Easter holidays. and Mike was to reign in his stead. Mr. Phyllis met him. He seems--" added Phyllis. "you'll make a century every match next term. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. He had always had the style. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship." Henfrey." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. was not returning next term. it's a beastly responsibility. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. indeed. He had filled out in three years. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out. but already he was beginning to find his form. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. As he was walking towards the house. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain." "I wish I wasn't. on the arrival of Mr. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. who treated his sons as companions. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. I wonder if he's out at the net now." "What for?" "I don't know. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. "in a beastly wax. minor match type. He liked the prospect. I've been hunting for you. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. Mike. At night sometimes he would lie awake.C. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. father wants you.

kicking the waste-paper basket. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. skilled in omens. Jackson in measured tones." "Here are Mr." "'Latin poor." "'Mathematics bad. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. but on several occasions. There followed an awkward silence. Inattentive and idle. "I want to speak to you. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. Mike. what is more. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. Greek. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French. not once. very poor. "'His conduct. "It is. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. father?" said Mike. that Jackson entered the study.'" quoted Mr. It was on this occasion that Mr. . both in and out of school. "'French bad.'" "Nobody does much work in Math." replied Mr. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. "I want you to listen to this report. Jackson. Jackson. "your report. he paused. with a sort of sickly interest." "Oh." Mike." said his father. I say!" groaned the record-breaker. which he declines to use in the smallest degree." said Mr. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. is that my report. therefore. Book Two. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings. scented a row in the offing. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor. Jackson was a man of his word.previous term. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning. there had been something not unlike a typhoon.'" "It wasn't anything really. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now." "Oh. It was with a certain amount of apprehension.'" "We were doing Thucydides. "Come in. and Mr.

when he made up his mind. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. birds were twittering." Mr. Mike's point of view was plain to him. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. or their Eight to Bisley." Barlitt was the vicar's son. He did not approve of it. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy.' There is more to the same effect. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. perhaps. pure and simple. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. The tragedy had happened. but still blithely). and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. Mr. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. He understood him. Mike said nothing. a silent. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. Mike?" said Mr. He understood cricket." Mike's heart thumped. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence." he said blankly. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. and there was an end of it. spectacled youth who did not enter . and for that reason he said very little now. and Mr. "I am sending you to Sedleigh." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. but it has one merit--boys work there. "I shall abide by what I said. his father. Jackson." he said. Jackson was sorry for Mike. Mr. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. He knew it would be useless." was his next remark. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. "It is not a large school.

Barlitt's mind was massive." said Mike frigidly. sir. Mike nodded. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. bustling up. "Young gents at the school. It's waiting here. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. thanks. pulled up again. Jackson. seeing the name of the station. sir." "Here you are." said Mike. so far from attempting to make the best of things. got up. but not much conversation had ensued. sir." "Thank you. opened the door. sir. It was such . George!" "I'll walk. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. The future seemed wholly gloomy. and the colour of his hair. You can't miss it. Mike said nothing. Hi. and Mike. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. A sombre nod. sorrier for himself than ever. and said. "It's a goodish step. He hated the station. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train." "Worse luck.very largely into Mike's world. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. and the man who took his ticket. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus." added Mr. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. for instance. sir. He thought. He walked off up the road. "Mr. He disliked his voice. his appearance. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. Then he got out himself and looked about him." "Right. "So you're back from Moscow. sir. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side." said the porter. "For the school. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. sir. Also the boots he wore. And. It's straight on up this road to the school. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter.

He inquired for Mr. and had lost both the Ripton matches. might make a century in an hour. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. There were three houses in a row. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. and the house-master appeared. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. Enderby. on top of all this.absolutely rotten luck. Presently the door opened. Outwood's was the middle one of these. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. at that. now that he was no longer there. Outwood. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. going in first. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. This must be Sedleigh. "Jackson?" he said mildly. And as captain of cricket. sir. and knocked. but almost as good. But it was not the same thing. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. About now. too. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. He had never been in command. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. Wrykyn. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. Outwood's. Once he crossed a river. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. Burgess. Now it might never be used. who would be captain in his place. and. the return by over sixty points. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. The football fifteen had been hopeless. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. It was soon after this that he caught sight. Outwood. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. "Yes. free bat on his day. Which was the bitter part of it. Strachan was a good. would be weak this year. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. from the top of a hill. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. but he was not to be depended upon. And now. and was shown into a room lined with books." . The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. Mike went to the front door. if he survived a few overs. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood.

Quite so. that's to say. good-bye. A Nursery Garden in the Home. Bishop Geoffrey. and fixed it in his right eye. Personally. thin youth. with chamfered plinth. said he had not. It was a little hard. You come from Crofton. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. where they probably played hopscotch. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. very glad indeed. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. He strayed about. Jackson. It will well repay a visit. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. All alone in a strange school." said the immaculate one. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. "is Smith. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. "Take a seat. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. "Hullo. in Shropshire. My name. Ambrose. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. sir?" "What? Yes. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. his gloom visibly deepened. yes. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness." he said. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. What's yours?" . Quite so. You will find the matron in her room. Jackson. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. then. "Hullo." said Mike. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. Jackson. Good-bye for the present. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. He spoke in a tired voice. A very long. But this room was occupied. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. I understand. was leaning against the mantelpiece. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. I think you might like a cup of tea." he added pensively. finding his bearings. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. he spoke. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. standing quite free from the apse wall. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. That sort of idea. Oh."I am very glad to see you. In many respects it is unique. As Mike entered.

" said Mike. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. before I start. or simply Smith. and got it. I was superannuated last term. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. so I don't know." "Bad luck. the P not being sounded. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. too." "For Eton. everybody predicting a bright career for me." "But why Sedleigh. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. By the way. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). "it was not to be. We now pass to my boyhood. But. When I was but a babe. But what Eton loses. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. "My infancy. there's just one thing. "Let us start at the beginning. If you ever have occasion to write to me." "No?" said Mike.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. . "Are you the Bully. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope." said Mike. I was sent to Eton. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. then?" "Yes! Why. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. Cp. and I don't care for Smythe. the Pride of the School. "but I've only just arrived. yes. the name Zbysco. I shall found a new dynasty. and see that I did not raise Cain. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. See? There are too many Smiths. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. "No. for choice. At an early age. Sit down on yonder settee." said Psmith solemnly." he resumed. Sedleigh gains. See?" Mike said he saw.

The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. mark you. Divided. together we may worry through. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports."That was the man. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. Now tell me yours. "hangs a tale. There's a libel action in every sentence. Jawed about apses and things." . The son of the vicar. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. laddie. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. who told our curate. A noble game. we fall." "I am with you. We must stick together. To get off cricket. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. "You have heard my painful story. who told my father. It's a great scheme. Outwood. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. but a bit too thick for me. We are companions in misfortune. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. prowling about. run by him. Cheer a little." said Psmith. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry." "Wrykyn. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. will you? I've just become a Socialist. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. His dislike for his new school was not diminished. Lost lambs. Comrade Jackson. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. There's an Archaeological Society in the school. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr." said Psmith. He could almost have embraced Psmith." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous." "And thereby. Sheep that have gone astray. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. dusting his right trouser-leg. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. And. The vicar told the curate. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. and so on. Bit off his nut. We are practically long-lost brothers. It goes out on half-holidays. You ought to be one. who told our vicar. You work for the equal distribution of property.

We shall thus improve our minds. You and I. at any rate. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side." said Psmith. This is practical Socialism. and do a bit on our own account. It was a biggish room. and a looking-glass. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. We will snare the elusive fossil together. "Stout fellow." said Mike. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. and get our names shoved down for the Society. Let's go and look. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown. Psmith approved the resolve. "is the exact programme. and straightening his tie. hung on a nail. There were a couple of deal tables." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other. "This'll do us well." he said." said Mike. I suppose they have studies here. We must stake out our claims. hand in hand. as it were. "'Tis well. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job." "Then let's beat up a study. Above all. we will go out of bounds. two empty bookcases." he said. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. called Wyatt. and have a jolly good time as well. looking out over the school grounds. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. "We will." said Psmith approvingly."I'm not going to play here. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. and one not without its meed of comfort." "Not now. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. was one way of treating the situation. Psmith opened the first of these. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp." They went upstairs." "It would take a lot to make me do that. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol. "Might have been made for us. A chap at Wrykyn." . Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme." "Good idea.

Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. somebody comes right in. not ours. "The weed." "These school reports. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times." A heavy body had plunged against the door. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. though. the first thing you know is." said Mike. It's got an Etna and various things in it. and a voice outside said. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. "Privacy. A rattling at the handle followed. We make progress. sits down. He was full of ideas. We make progress. "You couldn't make a long arm. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard." said Psmith."His misfortune. could you. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. if you want to be really useful. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. And now." . and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. There are moments when one wants to be alone. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. Similarly." said Psmith sympathetically. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience." said Psmith. That putrid calendar must come down. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. was rather a critic than an executant." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. I had several bright things to say on the subject. Do you think you could make a long arm. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary. as he watched Mike light the Etna. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. Hullo. I wonder. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs. What's this." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. "are the very dickens. though the idea was Psmith's. and begins to talk about himself.

"It's beastly cheek. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. But no. "you stayed on till the later train. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. but one of us. He went straight to the root of the matter." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece." "But we do. we Psmiths. a people that know not Spiller. Come in and join us. Spiller evaded the question. all might have been well. Your father held your hand and said huskily. put up his eyeglass. 'Edwin. and. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. deeply affected by his recital. Edwin!' And so." said he. "Well." said Psmith. I am Psmith. "to restore our tissues after our journey." said Psmith. freckled boy. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. Comrade Spiller. Homely in appearance. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. that's what I call it.Mike unlocked the door. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. and this is my study. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. "It's beastly cheek. "In this life. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. it's beastly cheek. It is unusual for people to go about the place . We keep open house." said Psmith. A stout fellow. on arrival. we must be prepared for every emergency." "My name's Spiller. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment." inquired the newcomer. and screamed." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. you find strange faces in the familiar room. and cheered himself with a sip of tea. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. perhaps. "What the dickens." Psmith went to the table. and flung it open. practical order. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing." said Psmith. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. 'Don't go. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). 'Edwin." he repeated. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. and said. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag.

and Jackson. Spiller pink and determined. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said. "All I know is. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower." The trio made their way to the Presence. Spiller. By no means a scaly project. and Simpson's left." said Psmith. sir. 'Now we'll let her rip. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible." said Psmith. I'm going to have it. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed.' he said. The thing comes on you as a surprise. Mike sullen. we know. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. Psmith particularly debonair. We may as well all go together." "Look here. so. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. and we stopped dead. One's the foot-brake. let this be a lesson to you." "But what steps.' Take the present case. But what of Spiller. Spiller. He hummed lightly as he walked. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once. "Ah.bagging studies. "And Smith." Mr. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. "are you going to take? Spiller. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. and I'm next on the house list.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter." "Spiller's." "Not an unsound scheme. He cannot cope with the situation. As it is. the man of Logic. 'I couldn't. you are unprepared. Error! Ah. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible." "We'll see what Outwood says about it. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way." he said. and skidded into a ditch. It was Simpson's last term. Spiller. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. . Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. 'I wouldn't. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. of course. it's my study. and the other's the accelerator. Mr.' So he stamped on the accelerator.

His colleague. Smith. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging. very pleased indeed. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school." Mr. "His heart is the heart of a little child. two miles from the school. sir. were in the main earnest. This enthusiasm is most capital. he is one of our oldest members. "One moment. Mr." said Psmith sadly. I will put down your name at once. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. Is there anything----" "Please."Er--quite so." "And Jackson's." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. This is capital. tolerantly. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. Smith. sir. while his own band. Archaeology fascinates me. sir--" said Spiller." "Spiller. "that accounts for it. who presided over the School Fire Brigade. sir." "Jackson. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please." "Please. appeared to be the main interest in their lives. games that left him cold. I--er--in a measure look after it." "Undoubtedly. Smith. I am very pleased. Most delighted. Smith." he said. We have a small Archaeological Society. Spiller. sir--" began Spiller. Spiller. though small. sir." pursued Psmith earnestly." said Psmith. Smith?" "Intensely. too!" Mr. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times. "I have been unable to induce to join. Do you want to join." said Psmith." "Ah. not at all. Downing. if you were not too busy. "I am delighted. never had any difficulty in finding support." "Not at all." "Oh." he said at last. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday. "One moment. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. sir. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. A grand pursuit. sir. Outwood beamed. "I understand. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. Cricket and football. sir." "There is no vice in Spiller." "Please. Boys came readily at his call. Mr." . "Yes. quite so. "Yes. sir--" said Spiller.

Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. An excellent arrangement. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. of course. "One moment. Quite so. We will move our things in." "Thank you very much. Correct it." shouted Spiller." "Capital!" "Please." He turned to Mr." said Psmith." "Quite so. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. sir." "Quite so. Spiller. sir--" said Spiller." "Certainly. Spiller. "There is just one other matter." "But. Smith. sir. "Please. very trying for a man of culture. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house. Edwin. as they closed the door. sir." "Thank you very much. sir. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday. sir. Spiller." "All this sort of thing. if you could spare the time. Fight against it. "is your besetting fault. Spiller. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller. A very good idea. "is very." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE . Smith." said Psmith. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. "We should. sir." he said. Smith. You should have spoken before. I come next after Simpson. "This tendency to delay. sir. Outwood." said Mike."We shall be there." "Yes. sir. sir.

"We ought to have known each other before. we're all right while we stick here. I say. though." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree." he said. "He thinks of everything! You're the man. "The difficulty is." As they got up. as you rightly remark. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. he would not have appreciated it properly. Smith. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories. Here we are in a stronghold. Comrade Jackson. and this time there followed a knocking." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. We are as sons to him. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off. but we can't stay all night. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis." "The loss was mine. the door handle rattled again. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. face the future for awhile. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. I don't like rows. they can only get at us through the door." said Psmith. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this. "about when we leave this room." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller. there is nothing he can deny us. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. I mean. "We will now." said Psmith courteously." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. but we must rout him out once more. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions." Mike was finishing his tea. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart. jam a chair against it. and we can lock that." "_And_." he said with approval. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it. with your permission. ." "And jam a chair against it." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man. This place would have been wasted on Spiller."There are few pleasures.

" The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets. "is cursing you like anything downstairs. _I_ think Spiller's an ass."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. in his practical way." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it." giggled Jellicoe." said Psmith. "Let us parley with the man. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass. "If you move a little to the left. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you." said Psmith approvingly. then?" asked Mike." said Psmith. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it. say. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better." he explained. only it belongs to three . Do you happen to know of any snug little room. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged." "As I suspected." "Old Spiller." "Sturdy common sense." said Psmith." "How many _will_ there be. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that." Mike unlocked the door." said Mike. "I just came up to have a look at you. not more. A light-haired youth with a cheerful. with. for instance." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. "He might get about half a dozen. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike." said Psmith. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass." sighed Psmith. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room.

not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help." "And we can have the room. The handle began to revolve again. come in. sir----" "Not at all." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. "We must apologise for disturbing you. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. "That door. "are beginning to move. I think. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. as the messenger departed." This time it was a small boy." said Psmith." "And now. Jellicoe and myself. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. but shall be delighted to see him up here. Comrade Spiller. as they returned to the study." he said. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. and some other chaps. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance." "You make friends easily. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study. "has sprung up between Jackson. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. crowding . it will save trouble. Better leave the door open." he said. "Yes. Ah. if you would have any objection to Jackson.chaps. Smith?" he said. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down." said Psmith. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down. Smith. Things. the others waited outside." Mr. Smith." "We were wondering. sir. I like to see it--I like to see it. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down." "I believe in the equal distribution of property.

I say. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the the doorway. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. was it? Well." "You'll get it hot. you chaps." A heavy body crashed against the door. but it was needless. The dogs of war are now loose." said Spiller. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. but Mike had been watching. His was a simple and appreciative mind. the captive was already on the window-sill. For a moment the doorway was blocked. "A neat piece of work. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. the first shot has been fired." "We'll risk it." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. . and Mike." cried Spiller suddenly. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr." said Jellicoe. slammed the door and locked it. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. "Look here. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe. Comrade Spiller. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. "Come on. however. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. Jellicoe giggled in the background. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. stepping into the room again. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. turning after re-locking the door. the enemy gave back. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. always. "Robinson. As Mike arrived. "Who was our guest?" he asked. the door. if you don't. "They'll have it down. was just in time to see Psmith. This time. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. swung open." said Psmith approvingly." said Mike. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. instead of resisting. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. Mike jumped to help. and then to stand by for the next attack. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. "We must act. Mike. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. and the handle.

Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door. we will play the fixture on our own ground. we would be alone. "There's no harm in going out. . so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. "You'd better come out. Spiller's face was crimson. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound." "They won't do anything till after tea. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. and see what happens. you'll only get it hotter if you don't. but Psmith was in his element. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this." said Mike." said Mike." said Jellicoe. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. and have it out?" said Mike." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. you know. leaning against the mantelpiece. "is exciting. but it can't go on. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. Well." said Psmith." "Leave us. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. "Tea. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. "we shall have to go now." "This. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time. When they had been in the study a few moments." Mike followed the advice. It read: "Directly this is over. nip upstairs as quickly as you can. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in. Spiller." A bell rang in the distance. "No.Somebody hammered on the door." he said. Jellicoe knocked at the door. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night." The passage was empty when they opened the door. "Lucky you two cut away so quick." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. of course. I shouldn't think. they were first out of the room. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently.

therefore. and disappeared again. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. well-conducted establishment. that human encyclopaedia. but otherwise. they rag him. . Mr. He never hears anything. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. closing the door." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. As to the time when an attack might be expected. And now. It was probable. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. "only he won't. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. We shall be glad of his moral support. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. Shall we be moving?" Mr. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. "the matter of noise. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. deposed that Spiller. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner." said Psmith. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. where Robinson also had a bed. as predicted by Jellicoe." said Mike. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether." said Psmith placidly. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. he'll simply sit tight." "Then I think. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started."Quite right. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. "And touching. _ne pas_. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter." said Psmith. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson. retiring at ten." said Jellicoe. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better.

If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. Napoleon would have done that. . There were three steps leading down to it. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. There was a creaking sound. "we will retire to our posts and wait. silence is essential. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. especially if. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr." said Mike. Comrade Jellicoe. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. I have evolved the following plan of action. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. had heard the noise. too. directly he heard the door-handle turned. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. I always ask myself on these occasions. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. "These humane preparations being concluded. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. If they have no candle. listening. He would then----" "I tell you what. too. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. which is close to the door. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. showed that Jellicoe. Subject to your approval. but far otherwise. Comrade Jackson. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. waiting for him. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. as on this occasion. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. "Dashed neat!" he said. If they have. and a slight giggle. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. Mike was tired after his journey."How about that door?" said Mike. they may wait at the top of the steps. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe." said Psmith. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

the Archaeological Society here. the better. and walked on. sir." Mr." said Mr. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. not wandering at large about the country. we went singing about the house. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance." "At any rate. eh?" It was a master." said Psmith. "If you choose to waste your time. But in my opinion it is foolery. I tell you I don't like it. When we heard that there was a society here. to an excitable bullfinch. shaking his head. I like every new boy to begin at once. I fear. too. sir. Scarcely had he gone. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys. "Excellent. "I was not alluding to you in particular. I suppose you will both play. Archaeology is a passion with us." "I never loaf." "On archaeology. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. Outwood last night. Downing vehemently. The more new blood we have. looking after him. both in manner and appearance. "I saw Adair speaking to you." Adair turned. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. A short. Let's go on and see what sort . "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here." said Psmith. "I don't like it." said Psmith. nothing else.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees. "Now _he's_ cross. We are." "Good job." "We are." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. We want keenness here. sir. It gets him into idle. Comrade Outwood loves us." sighed Psmith. a keen school. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket. I suppose I can't hinder you. probably smoking and going into low public-houses." "A very wild lot. loafing habits. sir. with fervour." He stumped off. above all. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff. I want every boy to be keen. sir. I was referring to the principle of the thing.

and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. after watching behind the nets once or twice. and Stone was a good slow bowler. that swash-buckling pair. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. Barnes. the head of Outwood's. Adair. and Wyatt. after . There were other exponents of the game. Altogether. He was not a Burgess. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. Stone and Robinson themselves." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. was a very good bowler indeed. when the sun shone. What made it worse was that he saw. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. Numbers do not make good cricket. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. Lead me to the nearest net. "I _will_ be good. in his three years' experience of the school. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. And now he positively ached for a game. and Milton. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. It couldn't be done." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. was a mild. It was on a Thursday afternoon. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. to begin with. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. but there were some quite capable men. by the law of averages. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. The batting was not so good. He did not repeat the experiment. were both fair batsmen. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. Any sort of a game. There were times. mostly in Downing's house. Mike would have placed above him.

"Go in after Lodge over there. could stand it no longer. give me the pip. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. Mike. Let us find some shady nook where a . but patronising. for Mr. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. seemed to enjoy them hugely. Roman camps." it may be observed. "Having inspired confidence. from increased embarrassment. he would have patronised that. Psmith. Psmith approached Mike. This is the real cricket scent. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. He went up to Adair. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. Mike repeated his request. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. He looked up." said Adair coldly. to be absolutely accurate. The day was warm. and brood apart for awhile. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. and he patronised ruins." he said." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. "This net. He patronised fossils." "Over there" was the end net. Mr. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. More abruptly this time. "This is the first eleven net. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. "What?" he said. and was trying not to show it. was the first eleven net. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. as he sat there watching. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. He was amiable. and kept them by his aide. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. Mike walked away without a word. let us slip away. "by the docility of our demeanour. He was embarrassed and nervous. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked.

and they strolled away down the hill. he got up. He was a short. hitching up the knees of his trousers. but he could not place him. "I played against you. Mine are like some furrowed field. "A fatiguing pursuit. and began to explore the wood on the other side. We will rest here awhile. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. and trusted to speed to save him. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. they always liked him. Mike would have carried on. and began to bark vigorously at him. Mike sat on for a few minutes. offered no opposition. jumped the brook. and listen to the music of the brook. "Thus far. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. dancing in among my . Their departure had passed unnoticed. He came back to where the man was standing. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles. At the further end there was a brook. He was too late. I rather think I'll go to sleep. I can tell you. for the Free Foresters last summer. Looking back. lay down. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. and then. "And." And Psmith. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. with his head against a mossy tree-stump." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond." Mike. and closed his may lie on his back for a bit. Comrade Jackson. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. unless you have anything important to say." "The dickens you--Why. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. In the same situation a few years before. and." said Psmith. above all. broad young man with a fair moustache." he said. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. on acquaintance. In passing. this looks a likely spot. finding this a little dull. Mike liked dogs. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself." said Psmith. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. Ah. Call me in about an hour. In fact. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. "I was just having a look round. and sitting down. "and no farther. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere.

Look here." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies." "You ought to have had me second ball." "I'll give you all you want. if you want me to. but no great shakes. I say. turning to the subject next his heart. By the way. You made fifty-eight not out." "I'm frightfully sorry. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is. only cover dropped it. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away. "Any Wednesday or Saturday. There's a sign-post where you turn off. I'm simply dying for a game. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about." "I'll play on a rockery. you know. * * * * * . You're Prendergast. "So. "I hang out down here. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground. "Only village. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. By Jove. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. He began to talk about himself. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked." "Thanks. Very keen. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. It's just off the London road. We all start out together." said Mike.nesting pheasants." "I'll lend you everything." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason." "That's all right. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather." And he told how matters stood with him." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now." he concluded. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. you see. I'll tell you how it is. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. but I could nip back.

Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. Downing. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. M. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. I say. Mr. Downing's special care. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. I think I'll come and watch you. Downing. and it grew with further acquaintance. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. indeed. Cricket I dislike. Jackson. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . fussy." One of the most acute of these crises. for a village near here." "My lips are sealed. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. will you? I don't want it to get about. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. Mike began. don't tell a soul. life can never be entirely grey. and Mr. Mr. employed doing "over-time. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. To Mr."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. If you like the game. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. punctuated at intervals by crises. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike." * * * * * That Saturday. but it was a very decent substitute. Downing. and the most important. though he would not have admitted it. to enjoy himself. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. sleepily. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. It was not Wrykyn. "I'm going to play cricket. As time went on. on being awakened and told the news. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. It was. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. pompous. To Mike. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. never an easy form-master to get on with.

Downing. Outwood. held up his hand. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. sir. The proceedings always began in the same way.esteem of Mr. of Outwood's house. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. and a particular friend of Mike's. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. a sort of high priest. Downing had closed the minute-book. These two officials were those sportive allies. Wilson?" "Please. spirit. with a thin green stripe. "One moment. "Shall I put it to the vote. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. was the Sedleigh colour. Sammy. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. light-hearted dog with a white coat. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. and under the captain a vice-captain. In passing. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. with green stripes. He had long legs. To-day they were in very fair form." . sir. had joined young and worked their way up. Under them were the rank and file. and was apparently made of india-rubber. of the School House. To show a keenness for cricket was good. the tongue of an ant-eater. sir?" asked Stone. Stone and Robinson. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. The rest were entirely frivolous. He was a large. much in request during French lessons. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. The Brigade was carefully organised. who. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. an engaging expression. about thirty in all. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. Sammy was the other. a tenor voice. short for Sampson. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. Downing pondered "Red. Downing. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. "Well. Stone. As soon as Mr. under him was a captain." Red. Downing's form-room. Downing. who looked on the Brigade in the right. We will now proceed to the painful details. or Downing. At its head was Mr. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. Wilson. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr.

Mr. sir. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man." A scuffling of feet. of course. Stone. listen to me. Wilson?" "Please."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. perfectly preposterous. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. sir. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. sir. Downing banged on his desk. please. of course. sir. and the meeting had divided. We cannot plunge into needless expense. get back to your place. those against it to the right." said Robinson. sir." said Stone. sir. "Silence!" "Then. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please. sir. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. Well. "I don't think my people would be pleased. Mr. Stone. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. "Sit down!" he said. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. sir. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands." "Oo-oo-oo-oo." "Oo-oo-oo-oo." "Please. The whole strength of the company: "Please. sir-r-r!" "But. sit down--Wilson. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. sir." . the danger!" "Please. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are." "Please. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. out of the question.

sir. "Very well--be quick. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle. Those near enough to see. I'm not making a whining noise. sir. Downing. Downing smiled a wry smile. Downing. Wilson. sir?" said a voice "off. Mr. sir-r-r. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. "do me one hundred lines. Jackson. puzzled. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson." was cut off by the closing door. sir?" inquired Mike. I want you boys above all to be keen. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice." "What _sort_ of noise." he remarked frostily. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. _please_. sir? No. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. mingled with cries half-suppressed. leave the room!" "Sir." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. "Sir. "May I fetch a book from my desk. We must have keenness. no. as many Wrykynians . "A bird. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. "It's outside the door. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr." said Stone helpfully. sir?" asked Mike. sir. "Our Wilson is facetious. "Noise. He was not alone. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. there must be less of this flippancy. Downing." as he reached the door. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. And. Wilson!" "Yes. The muffled cries grew more distinct. sir?" asked Mike. sir!" "This moment." said Robinson. I think. "I think it's something outside the window." A pained "OO-oo-oo. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in.Mr." he said. we are busy.

Some leaped on to forms." said Mr. Chaos reigned.had asked before him. if you do not sit down. Vincent. Downing. "Perhaps that's it." "They are mowing the cricket field." said the invisible Wilson. The banging on Mr. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. among the ruins barking triumphantly. like Marius. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. It is a curious whining noise." Crash! . The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. Downing shot out orders. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. It was a stirring. "I do not propose. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. Downing's desk resembled thunder. sit down! Donovan. "They do sometimes. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. bustling scene. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. Downing acidly. Mr. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. I said. the same! Go to your seat. threats. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. Come in. you will be severely punished. all shouted. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. all of you. others flung books. _Quietly_. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. Henderson. rising from his place. "Stone. Jackson and Wilson." "It may be one of the desks squeaking." added Robinson. sir. Mr. sir. and was now standing. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo." "Or somebody's boots. remain. sir. sir?" bellowed the unseen one." "Yes." put in Stone. What are you doing. go quietly from the room. "to imitate the noise.

That will do. "You may go. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . so he came in. sir. Wilson."Wolferstan. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. Go quietly from the room. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. Downing walked out of the room. sir." The meeting dispersed." And Mr. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. Mr. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. Jackson. and had refused to play cricket." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him. and paid very little for it. too. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. it was true. Wilson had supplied the rat. Mr." It was plain to Mr. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. "One hundred lines. Wilson?" "Please. Downing turned to Mike. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines. but Mr. everybody. We are a keen school. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. but nevertheless a member." said Wilson. frivolous at times. "Well." "I tried to collar him. as one who tells of strange things. I had to let him go." he said. Jackson. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. but when you told me to come in. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. I fear. sir." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. and he came in after the rat." said Mike. come here. Mike the dog. "Jackson and Wilson. Jackson. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. Also he kept wicket for the school.

and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. Mike's heart warmed to them. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. Robinson was laughing. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. "I say. Robinson on the table." "Oh. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. so don't be shy about paying it back. the return match." said Mike. he did. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. and welcomed the intrusion. Mike put down his pen. as a matter of fact. The fact is. asked for the loan of a sovereign. by return of post. done with. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . and got up. You can freeze on to it." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. I do happen to have a quid. they should have it. There was. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. forgotten. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. Stone beamed. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. if you like. without preamble. sorry. "As a matter of fact." said Robinson. it may be stated at once. after the Sammy incident. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. (Which. "You're a sportsman. He was in warlike mood. He felt that he. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. But it's about all I have got. They sat down. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room.They say misfortunes never come singly. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. and. he would be practically penniless for weeks. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. contemporary with Julius Caesar. I'm in a beastly hole. Jellicoe came into the room. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study.

"Those Fire Brigade meetings. They go about. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. Winifred's" brand. Masters were rather afraid of them. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. They were useful at cricket. small and large. "Were you sacked?" "No. You can do what you like. a keen school. "Well." . "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. you could get into some sort of a team. He got a hundred lines." "'We are. loud and boisterous. and you never get more than a hundred lines. They had a certain amount of muscle. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them. "are a rag." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. and then they usually sober down. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. "I got Saturday afternoon. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. They were absolutely free from brain." said Stone. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. If you know one end of a bat from the other. As to the kind of adventure. above all. he now found them pleasant company. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. and a vast store of animal spirits." "Don't you!" said Mike. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. As for Mike.'" quoted Stone." said Mike. and began to get out the tea-things. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here.public school." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished. My pater took me away.

and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup. if I'd stopped on. surely?" "This isn't a real house match." "Think of the rag. You don't get ordered about by Adair. Stone broke the silence. I play for a village near here. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. and knock the cover off him. Place called Little Borlock." ." agreed Robinson. W." said Stone. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely."Wrykyn?" said Robinson." said Mike. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day. "Why. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler. do play. I say. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten. "By Jove. Stone gaped. I was in the team three years. "Enough for six." "Adair sticks on side. and I should have been captain this year. for a start. My word. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. I say." said Robinson. "I've got an idea. There are always house matches. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. "Why. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running. yes." "What!" "Well." "Masters don't play in house matches. "I did. Only a friendly. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. We're playing Downing's. look here." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. and the others?" "Brother. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. but they always have it in the fourth week. You _must_ play." said Stone.

"is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. Barnes appeared. We'll nip across to Barnes' study." he said. I was in the team. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. "The list isn't up yet. Jackson. "I say. Mike was not a genuine convert." said Mike. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. quite unexpectedly. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him."But the team's full. and make him alter it. then." "Yes. Most leap at the opportunity. . Downing he had the outward aspect of one. THEN. and when." They dashed out of the room." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. Mr. He studied his _Wisden_. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. "Are you the M. It was so in Mike's case. "I say. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door." he said. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket. JACKSON. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag. Then footsteps returning down the passage. but to Mr. and a murmur of excited conversation. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert." said Mike. "Thanks awfully. Downing assumed it. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. I mean.

Adair. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball." "Indeed. sir. timidly jubilant. Smith? You are not playing yourself. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. except for the creases. as captain of cricket. who was with Mike. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. Your enthusiasm has bounds. in the way he took . had naturally selected the best for his own match. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. working really hard. on the cricket field. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. the archaeologist of yesterday. With Mike it was different. "What!" he cried. "a keen house." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. sir. contrives to get an innings in a game. where the nervous new boy. above all. Downing's No. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. becomes the cricketer of to-day. Mike.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. sir. competition is fierce. with a kind of mild surprise. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. Downing. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. Mike saw. Jackson. It was a good wicket. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. I notice. "We are. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. We are essentially versatile. It is the right spirit. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. "I like to see it." "In our house. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. Drones are not welcomed by us. 2 manner--the playful. * * * * * Barnes. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness." he said. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets." said Psmith earnestly.

Downing's slows. and ended with a combination of step and jump. "Get to them. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. Mike took guard. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. but the programme was subject to alterations. and dashed up against the rails. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. was billed to break from leg. six dangerous balls beautifully played. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. Mr. as several of the other games had not yet begun. gave a jump. He had got a sight of the ball now. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. Mike went out at it. they were disappointed.guard. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. The ball. and mid-on. two long steps. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. but it stopped as Mr. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet." said Mr. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. The first over was a maiden. and off the wicket on the on-side. The fieldsmen changed over. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. This time the hope was fulfilled. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. The ball was well up. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. took three more short steps. in his stand at the wickets. slow. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. Downing irritably. as the ball came . and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. Mike started cautiously. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. Jenkins. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. He took two short steps. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. and. when delivered. Mike slammed it back. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. failed to stop it. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. A half-volley this time. and he knew that he was good. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run.

Then he looked up. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. please. By the time the over was finished. Mike had then made a hundred and three. and. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. in addition. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. and the total of his side. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. The third ball was a slow long-hop. . and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous.back from the boundary. it is usually as well to be batting. waited in position for number four. one is inclined to be abrupt. and bowling well." "Sir. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. "Get to them. And a shrill small voice. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. Adair came up. by three wides. The expected happened. offering no more chances. in Adair's fifth over. Downing would pitch his next ball short. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. Scared by this escape. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. and Mike. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. if you can manage it. This happened now with Mr. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. where. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. Jenkins. uttered with painful distinctness the words. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. without the slightest success. Mr. Downing bowled one more over. and then retired moodily to cover-point." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. Downing. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. sat on the splice like a limpet. there was a strong probability that Mr.

Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up."I didn't say anything of the kind. politely. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. and the school noticed it. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. am I?" said Mike. There's a difference. won't they?" suggested Barnes. "Great Scott. Of all masters." said Stone. "I never saw such a chump. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. The result was that not only he himself. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. having got Downing's up a tree. "Above it. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. "That's just the gay idea. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. "I'm not keeping you. "No. Barnes's remark that he supposed. I said I wasn't going to play here. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. "Sick! I should think they would. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. I suppose?" "Not a bit." Adair was silent for a moment. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. Downing. Not up to it. too. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. but also--which was rather unfair--his house." There was another pause. As a matter of fact. was met with a storm of opposition." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. Mr. thanks. Three years. "Declare!" said Robinson. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that." There was a silence.

Downing took a couple more overs. I swear I won't field. In no previous Sedleigh match. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. in one of which a horse. Play was resumed at 2. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. it was assumed by the field. But still the first-wicket stand continued." said Robinson. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. Adair. "Only you know they're rather sick already. if I can get it. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. greatly daring. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. and that is what happened now. Games had frequently been one-sided. Nor will Robinson. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. and Stone came out." "Don't you worry about that. Barnes.can. I won't then. Time. each weirder and more futile than the last. And the rest. going in first early in the morning. The first-change pair are poor. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. "If you declare." said Stone with a wide grin. These are the things which mark epochs. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. that directly he had topped his second century. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. mercifully. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. At four o'clock. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of ." "So do I. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. tried their luck. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. Mr." "Well. proceeded to get to business once more. or when one is out without one's gun. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. the small change. passing in the road. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. Bowlers came and went. was bowling really well." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. fortified by food and rest. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. Besides." "Rather not. after a full day's play.15.30. amidst applause. and Mike." said Barnes unhappily. playing himself in again.

124 . The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. and still Barnes made no sign. a slip of paper.. P." "Declare! Sir..." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl.. You must declare your innings closed.. capital.. Downing walked moodily to his place. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type... "Capital. _b_. and Stone.." "It is perfect foolery.. Mike's pace had become slower.. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him.. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain. but an excellent eye. Barnes. not out.. as was only natural. as who should say.." "Absurd. not out. J. Stone." snapped Mr.. was mounting steadily.. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic. Hassall. "Barnes!" "Please.. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something." Mr...way. Jackson.. too. as a matter of fact..." "This is absurd." "He's very touchy. sir." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion.... sir... DOWNING'S _Outwood's... sir. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's.. "This is foolery.. just above the mantelpiece. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force.. The game has become a farce.. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience. as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. we can't unless Barnes does.... _c_..) A grey dismay settled on the field. but his score... a week later.. and the next after that._ J. and the next over.. And now let's start _our_ innings. But the next ball was bowled. 33 M. Downing. There was no reply.. 277 W.. "Barnes!" he called. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad.. Hammond. He had an unorthodox style. "I think Barnes must have left the field.. there was on view.." said Stone. Lobs were being tried.. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was. nearly weeping with pure joy. First innings.

discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr. it's worth it. touched me This interested Mike. fagged as he was... Psmith. felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week. When all ringing with song and merriment.. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe.... Comrade Jellicoe and..." ..." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again. I should say that.. On the other hand. Downing.... as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair. is.. leaning against the mantelpiece. "In an ordinary way. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open.. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot. Twenty-eight off one over.. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects.. You will probably get sacked.. "In theory. he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you.. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated. could have been the Petted Hero... for three quid. and Mike.. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out. But your performance was cruelty to animals. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. not to mention three wides.." "I don't care... CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night. from what I have seen of our bright little friend. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries." said he. "the the place was crept to my side.. if he had cared to take the part. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day. in a small way. here and there. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket. I suppose... the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler." "He doesn't deserve to. shifting his aching limbs in the chair. In fact.. would have made Job foam at the mouth. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue.." murmured Mike.. 37 ----Total (for one wicket). 471 Downing's did not bat. Mike.. slipping his little hand in mine." he said..Extras..

and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. He wanted four. clinking sovereigns." There was a creaking."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. but he could not sleep. I'm stiff all over. Jackson!" he said. Well. It was done on the correspondence system. He uttered no word for quite three minutes." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. the various points of his innings that day." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. nothing. Psmith chatted for general. "Yes?" "Have you--oh." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood." "Nor can I. when he's collected enough for his needs. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. "I say." * * * * * a log. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. wrapped in gloom. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. I hope. "Are you asleep. who appeared to be to the conversation." Silence again. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe. I can't get to sleep. as the best substitute for sleep. and then dropped gently off. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. I'm pretty well cleaned out. . There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. he'll pay me back a bit. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side.

'Hullo!' And then they'd say. and the servant would open the door. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. Jackson? I say." "Hullo?" "I say. and you'd go in. in order to give verisimilitude. and presently you'd hear them come in. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked." The bed creaked. Why?" "Oh. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way. They might all be out." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. and you'd drive up to the house." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. So would mine. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. or something. My sister would be jolly sick. He was not really listening. as it were. After being sacked. and all that. and then you'd have to hang about. you know. I meant. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. I expect. "Hullo?" he said. "My pater would be frightfully sick. "Nobody. Then he spoke again. and you'd go out into the passage. Especially my pater. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts." "Everybody's would. I suppose. too." "Yes." Mike dozed off again. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. and wait. My mater would be sick." "Happen when?" "When you got home. And then you'd be sent into a bank. But if you were. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . Have you got any sisters."Jackson. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. or to Australia. I don't know.

" "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. Was it a hobby. Except on the cricket field. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody. where he was a natural genius. He changed the subject. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. This thing was too much. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure." "Whose sisters?" "Yours." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before." said Jellicoe eagerly. I asked if you'd got any. do you?" "What!" cried Mike." "Any _what_?" "Sisters." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. He was as obstinate as a mule. You'll wake Smith. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. already looking about him for further loans. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. He resembled ninety per cent. But it's jolly serious. look out. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say. "I say. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon. He had some virtues and a good many defects. though people whom he liked . of other members of English public schools. "Do _what_?" "I say." "Any what?" "Sisters." Mike pondered."Me--Jellicoe. he was just ordinary. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound.

but. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. stood in a class by itself. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. Where it was a case of saving a friend. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. He was always ready to help people. The great match had not been an ordinary match. in his childhood. It was a wrench. Downing and his house realised this. That would probably be unpleasant. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. And Mr. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. Finally. Yesterday's performance. in addition. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. where the issue concerned only himself. and had. however. there was the interview with Mr. Young blood had been shed overnight. Mr. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. it had to be done. The thought depressed him. till Psmith. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. He was rigidly truthful. Bob's postal order. In addition to this. Downing to come. who had a sensitive ear. . if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude.could do as they pleased with him. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. which had arrived that evening. He had. And when he set himself to do this. It was a particularly fine day. As Psmith had said. which made the matter worse. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. he was in detention. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. Mr. one good quality without any defect to balance it. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. he had never felt stiffer in his life. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. To begin with. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. He was good-natured as a general thing. Downing was a curious man in many ways.

You must act a lie. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. So Mr. which was as a suit of mail against satire. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. in their experience of the orator. the user of it must be met half-way. That is to say. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. sir. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. of necessity. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers. works it off on the boy. he was perfectly right. Downing. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress." "Well. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. For sarcasm to be effective. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. no. Far too commonplace!" Mr. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. Mike. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. that prince of raggers. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. Macpherson. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. As events turned out. you must conceal your capabilities. when he has trouble with the crew. Downing came down from the heights with a run. more elusive. in the excitement of this side-issue. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir.Mr. that would not be dramatic enough for you. No. When a master has got his knife into a boy. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. I have spoken of this before. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. sir." "Please. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. "No. Just as. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. did with much success. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. Which Mike. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. Mr." concluded Mr. sir. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. he began in a sarcastic strain. the speaker lost his inspiration. It would be too commonplace altogether. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . who happened to have prepared the first half-page. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. By the time he had reached his peroration. at sea. Downing laughed bitterly. the skipper. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. "You are surrounded. And. since the glorious day when Dunster.

He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened." "It's swelling up rather. is not a little confusing. as they crossed the field. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang. he prodded himself too energetically. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground. "Awfully sorry. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. "Silly ass. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. "or I'd have helped you over. The average person. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips. "slamming about like that. crouches down and trusts to luck. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him." "Awfully the pitch." "I'll give you a hand." he groaned. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. zeal outrunning discretion. puts his hands over his skull. a long youth." said Mike. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. Jellicoe hopping. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. man. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. "I shall have to be going in. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. you know. But I did yell. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. and rather embarrassingly grateful. Mike had strolled out by himself." said Dunster." said Mike. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon. To their left. The bright-blazered youth walked up. . Jellicoe was cheerful. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. Dunster. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. uttering sharp howls whenever. on hearing the shout.

fondling the beginnings of his moustache. Mike made his way towards the pavilion." sighed Psmith. Before he got there he heard his name called. the darling of the crew. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world." stirring sight when we met. and turning. man." said Psmith. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. "were at a private school together. Is anything irritating you?" he added. "You needn't be a funny ass. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's. Restore your tissues. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses." said the animal delineator. I notice." "Old Smith and I. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. I'd no idea I should find him here." "I heard about yesterday. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. Mike. The fifth ball bowled a man. faithful below he did his duty. apply again. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever." "Alas. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. Dunster gave dawg. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. Have a cherry?--take one or two. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. felt very much behind the times." said Psmith." . and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. Comrade Jackson. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room." said Dunster. Hullo! another man out. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. and when you have finished those.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon. "More. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday." said Dunster. as he walked to the cricket field. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to. pained. "Return of the exile." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano." said Dunster. Well hit. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. "more. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster.

" "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. "I say. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe. Mike stretched himself. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M.C." said Psmith to Mike." said Psmith. I need some one to listen when I talk."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. not so much physical as mental. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. Soliloquy is a knack." "Has he?" said Psmith. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him." "Don't dream of moving." "I shall count the minutes. "I hadn't heard. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory." said Psmith. do you?" he said. man. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. I suppose. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse." said Jellicoe gloomily. "I mean. it'll keep till tea-time. Personally." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster.C. I like to feel that I am doing good. at last. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. I shall get sacked." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. but probably only after years of patient practice. he felt disinclined for exertion." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" . Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. the sun was in my eyes. "Oh! chuck it. Hamlet had got it. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. "it's too late.

for some mysterious reason. "Oh. has its comic man. who looked . with a red and cheerful face. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important." Jellicoe sat up." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well."It's about that money. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. are you certain----" "I shall be all right." said Mike. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. only I got crocked. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here." "It doesn't matter. it's frightfully decent of you." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. I'll get out of the house after lights-out." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day." "I say." "Yes. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. do you think you could." "I say. stout man. "I say. called Lower Borlock. hang it!" he said. "it can't be helped." said Jellicoe miserably. it can. Barley filled the post. he was the wag of the village team. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'. "I'm awfully sorry. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term." "What absolute rot!" "But. it's as easy as anything. so I couldn't move. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. Every village team. He was a large." "He's the chap I owe the money to." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes. look here.

another. I think. but it did not occur to him to ask. and if Jellicoe owed it. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business. Probably in business hours After all." he said. He took the envelope containing the money without question. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. "it's locked up at night. chuck it!" said Mike. there was nothing strange in Mr. five pounds is a large sum of money." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . which was unfortunate." said Jellicoe.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness. Besides. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. "I shall bike there. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. but I had a key made to fit it last summer." "I'll get it from him. I won't tell him. "if I can get into the shed. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments." "I say. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings." "All right. "You can manage that." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. and be full of the milk he was quite different. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. I----" "Oh.

as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. communicating with the boots' room. also. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing.expulsion. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. "Why. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. 'ullo! Mr. "Yes. of course. Jackson. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven." said Psmith. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. The place was shut. Mike did not want to be expelled. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. However. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. I've given you the main idea of the thing. which for the time being has slipped my memory. Psmith had yielded up the key. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. being wishful to get the job done without delay. sir?" said the boots. The advantage an inn has over a private house. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. which. for many reasons. "One of the Georges. until he came to the inn. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. . He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. "I forget which. there you are. Mr. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. Still. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. Jackson was easy-going with his family. Probably he would have volunteered to come. by the cricket field. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. Mike would have been glad of a companion. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. too. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. with whom early rising was not a hobby. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened.

Jack." Mr. Jackson. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. Then he collapsed into a chair." "I must see him. Mr. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. of course. "Dear. if it's _that_--" said the boots. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. the five pounds." "The five--" Mr. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. Barley opened the letter. "Oh dear!" he said. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. and requested him to read it. Mr. Barley. "What's up?" he asked. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. "Well. but rather for a solemn."I want to see Mr. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind. who was waiting patiently by. "You can pop off. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. It was an occasion for rejoicing. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. Barley. which creaked under him. and now he felt particularly fogged." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. perhaps. Jackson. I've got some money to give to him. read it." "Oh. hoping for light. thankful. dear!" chuckled Mr. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. Jack. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. . and wiped his eyes." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. and had another attack. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house.

Barley slapped his leg. It would have been cruel to damp the man. Mike was . she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. Mr. it was signed "T. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. since. Jane--she's the worst of the two. I hope it is in time. took back the envelope with the five pounds. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. So I says to myself. Barley slapped his thigh. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. Love us!" Mr. 'I'll have a game with Mr." it ran. The other day. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. BARLEY. So Mike laughed perfunctorily." There was some more to the same effect." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. and the damage'll be five pounds." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. G. Jellicoe over this. "he took it all in. Jellicoe. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. simply in order to satisfy Mr. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. Mischief! I believe you. Mike. finishing this curious document. they are. "Why. Barley's sense of humour. is another matter altogether. which I could not get before. and as sharp as mustard. in fact.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. Aberdeen terriers. and rode off on his return journey. "DEAR MR. but to be placed in a dangerous position. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. the affair of old Tom Raxley. always up to it. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. Mr.--"I send the £5. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. about 'ar parse five. last Wednesday it were. but.

that the voice had come. and. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. of which the house was the find this out for himself. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. Downing's house. It was from the right-hand gate. Mike felt easier in his mind. It was pitch-dark in the shed. as Mike came to the ground. With this knowledge. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. Without waiting to discover what this might be. and gone to bed. Outwood's front garden. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. There were two gates to Mr. On the first day of term. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. This he accomplished with success. went out. his foot touched something on the floor. Sergeant Collard . of the call caused Mike to lose his head. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. however. and running. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. As he did so. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. and locked the door. after which he ran across to Outwood's. and through the study window. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. The suddenness. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. carried on up the water-pipe. nearest to Mr. and as he wheeled his machine in. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. his pursuer again gave tongue. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed.

He left his cover. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. disappeared as the runner. he supposed--on the school clock. this was certainly the next best thing. The other appeared startled. He would wait till a quarter past. He ran on. turned aside. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. Having arrived there. The pursuer had given the thing up. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. if that was out of the question. shoot up the water-pipe once more. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. increasing his girth. They passed the gate and went on down the road. . He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. His first impression. taking things easily. but Time. at Wrykyn. but. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. Then he would trot softly back. A sound of panting was borne to him.was a man of many fine qualities. Focussing his gaze. that he had been seen and followed. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. He would have liked to be in bed. turned into the road that led to the school. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. with the sergeant panting in his wake. and so to bed. he sat on the steps. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. he was evidently possessed of a key. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. but he could not run. this time at a walk. His thoughts were miles away. instead of making for the pavilion. His programme now was simple. "Is that you. as Mike. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). had taken from him the taste for such exercise. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. Like Mike. passing through the gate. Meanwhile. looking out on to the cricket field. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. Then the sound of footsteps returning. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree.

was a very fair stomach-ache. Downing emerged from his gate. The school clock struck the quarter. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. aroused from his first sleep by the news. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. Jackson?" "What are you. He was off like an . therefore. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. waiting for Adair's return. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. Adair?" The next moment Mr. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. an apple. that MacPhee. was disturbed in his mind. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. But Mr. Adair rode off." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. It came about. Now it happened that Mr. Downing. two ices." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. with a cry of "Is that you." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. All that was wrong with MacPhee. and. After a moment's pause. at a range of about two yards. as a matter of fact. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. So long. whistling between his teeth. He walked in that direction. "I'm going for the doctor. One of the chaps in our house is bad. that Mike. and Mr. He would be safe now in trying for home again. three doughnuts." Mike turned away. and a pound of cherries. and washing the lot down with tea. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour."What are you doing out here. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. half a cocoa-nut. conveyed to him by Adair. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. was now standing at his front gate. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. Downing. did want to smile. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. The Head. taking advantage of the door being open." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. who. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell." Mr. escaped and rushed into the road. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. you say?" "Very big. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. Mr. A big boy. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. "Dear me!" he said. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. "He--he--_what_. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. He had a cold in the head. He received the housemaster frostily. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. on the other hand. only. he wanted revenge. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. in spite of his strict orders.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world." said Mr. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. you think?" "I am certain of it. was not in the best of tempers. instead of running about the road. deeply interested. The headmaster. It was not his . "One of the boys at the school. Mr. I suppose not. whoever he was. He did not want to smile. no. he went straight to the headmaster. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises." "No." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. Downing.

Downing. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. and passed it on to Mr. "Not actually in. who. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. but without result. It was Mr. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. and Mr." "Impossible. if he wanted the criminal discovered. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on. of Outwood's. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack." he would have to discover him for himself. Downing. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. Downing. at the time. as far as I understand. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. broke into a wild screech of laughter. Outwood. the rest was comparatively easy. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. Oh yes. Downing as they walked back to lunch.. unidentified. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. Downing was left with the conviction that. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. It was only . I think. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. Mr. had seen. Downing was not listening. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England." Which he did. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. and Fate. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. not to mention cromlechs. gave him a most magnificent start. Outwood who helped him. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. with the exception of Johnson III. Downing." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out.

but it finishes in time. I am. "Oo-oo-oo. Having requested his host to smoke. Regardless of the claims of digestion. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. sir." he said. Dinner was just over when Mr. as a blind man could have told. Outwood. he used to say. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. sir. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. found himself at liberty. Feeflee good at spottin'. sir. In due course Mr." admitted the sergeant reluctantly.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer." he said. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. sergeant. "tells me that last night. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. Downing. "Mr. sir. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. sir. I did. Oo-oo-oo. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. he rushed forth on the trail." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. sir. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. sergeant?" "No. yer young monkey. Downing stated his case. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard.' he used to say. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. which the latter was about to do unasked. sir--spotted 'im. ejecting the family. yer. Dook of Connaught. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. Downing arrived. "I did. "Did you catch sight of his face. in order to ensure privacy. Mr. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. and I doubles after 'im prompt." "Ah!" .

. Downing rose to go. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. Good afternoon."Bare-'eaded." "So do I. the result of luck. and slept the sleep of the just. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. Outwood's house. and exhibited clearly. I'm feeflee good at spottin'.C. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. sir. on Wednesday. rested his feet on the table. The school plays the M. sir. but it was a dark night. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. to a very large extent. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. "Well. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. Downing went out into the baking sunlight." And Mr. sir. 'cos yer see. sir." "I hope not. sir. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. sergeant. rubbing the point in." added the sergeant. "I will find my way out. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. success in the province of detective work must always be. sergeant. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. "Good-afternoon." "Good-afternoon to you. if he persisted in making so much noise." "Pray do not move. is it not?" "Feeflee warm." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead. with a label attached. having requested Mrs. and dusted. put a handkerchief over his face." Mr. while Sergeant Collard. Very hot to-day." he said. sergeant.C.

as a matter of fact. "Sir. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. requested that way peculiar to some boys. only a limited number of boys in Mr. of course. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. Outwood's house. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. but even if there had been only one other. if he only knew. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. there were clues lying all over the place. but. But if ever the emergency does arise. Mr. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . when Fate once more intervened. this time in the shape of Riglett. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. saying: "My dear Holmes. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. All these things passed through Mr. As he brooded over the case in hand. unless you knew who had really done the crime. Mr. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. just as the downtrodden medico did. how--?" and all the rest of it. it would have complicated matters. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. tight-lipped smiles. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. he thought. and leaves the next move to you. his sympathy for Dr. a junior member of his house." the boy does not reply. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. we should have been just as dull ourselves. Probably. If you go to a boy and say. It certainly was uncommonly hard. now that he had started to handle his own first case. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. but. It is practically Stalemate. and his methods. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. having capped Mr. to detect anybody. even and." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. What he wanted was a clue. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. shouting to him to pick them up. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. We should simply have hung around. There were. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source.The average man is a Doctor Watson. Watson increased with every minute.

"What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. however. and finally remarked. Downing." he said. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. A foot-mark. And this was a particularly messy mess. Downing unlocked the door. Mr. A foot-mark! No less. Downing. Riglett. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. The sound recalled Mr. What he saw at first was not a Clue. "Get your bicycle. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. Paint. Downing. walking delicately through dry places. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. then on his right. Give Dr. Then Mr. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. stood first on his left foot. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. Red paint. It was the ground-man's paint. Then suddenly. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. "and be careful where you tread. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards.bicycle from the shed. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. beneath the disguise of the mess. now coughed plaintively. Yoicks! There were two things. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. to be considered. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. Mr. Much thinking had made him irritable. In the first place. "Pah!" said Mr. Your careful detective must consider everything. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. and made his way to the shed. Downing remembered. The air was full of the pungent scent. Mr. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. and he is a demon at the game. blushed. extracted his bicycle from the rack. he saw the clue. Watson a fair start. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. Downing saw it. leaving Mr. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of ." Riglett. He felt for his bunch of keys. Watson could not have overlooked. Downing to mundane matters. but just a mess.

Adair. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. His is the first you come to. but I could show you in a second." "It is spilt all over the floor.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. His book had been interesting. and the ground-man came out in ." "Thank you. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. He could get the ground-man's address from him." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. He rapped at the door of the first. Quite so. You did not do that." he said. Oh. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. sir. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. "Oh. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. This was the more probable of the two contingencies. Adair.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. on returning to the house. on the right as you turn out into the road. I shall be able to find them. There's a barn just before you get to them. "No. sir. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. don't get up. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. Adair. I suppose." "I see. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. I didn't go into the shed at all. There are three in a row. that there was paint on his boots. by the way. Things were moving. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee. Thank you. sir.

Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. yes. Markby. The fact is. sir? No. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. and denounce him to the headmaster. Quite so. On the shelf at the far end. Markby." Mr. sir?" "No." "Of course. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. You had better get some more to-morrow." "Do you want it. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. sir. with the result that it has been kicked over. That is all I wished to know. Makes it look shabby.his shirt-sleeves. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. It was Sunday. Regardless of the heat. too. An excellent idea. sir. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. and spilt." "Just so. blinking as if he had just woke up. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. Tell me. Thank you. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. sir. thank you. Outwood's house somewhere." "On the floor?" "On the floor. He was hot on the scent now. Just as I thought. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. All he had to do was to go to Mr. no. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. sir. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . as was indeed the case. Picture. ascertain its owner. thank you. The thing had become simple to a degree. It wanted a lick of paint bad. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. "Oh. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. Markby.

They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing. He is welcome to them." said Psmith. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. "Or shall I fetch Mr." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time. Downing." Mike walked on towards the field. and Psmith. sir. who had just entered the house. . He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. no matter." "'Tis well. I wonder! Still. sir?" "Do as I tell you. "Enough of this spoolery. What brings him round in this direction. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. I will be with you in about two ticks. "What the dickens." snapped Mr. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel." murmured Psmith courteously." said he. and said nothing. Smith. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. That is to say. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room. "There's a kid in France. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. Downing arrived. sir." said Mike disparagingly.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. "I was an ass ever to try it." "With acute pleasure. Outwood." said Mike. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on. found Mr. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. as he passed. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. "A warm afternoon. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. so he merely inclined his head gracefully. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are.

I understand. That's further down the passage. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn." said Psmith. Here we have----" Mr." said Mr. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. Downing with asperity. panting slightly. An airy room. "Excuse me. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. sir. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. sir? No. Smith. "Aha!" said Psmith. "Show me the next dormitory. "Shall I lead the way.Psmith said no more. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. . "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. It is Mr." said Psmith. then moved on. sir. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. "Is this impertinence studied. but went down to the matron's room." They moved on up the passage." Mr. "I think he's out in the field. Downing rose. Smith. having examined the last bed. The master snorted suspiciously. "Are you looking for Barnes. opening a door. "This. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. "Here. An idea struck the master. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master." said Psmith." he said. Downing paused. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. Each boy. Downing looked at him closely. sir. Mr. sir. The observation escaped me unawares. Smith. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. Downing stopped short." "I was only wondering. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. "to keep your remarks to yourself. baffled. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. This is Barnes'. Mr. sir?" he asked. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. "we have Barnes' dormitory. Downing nodded. Mr. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. "I beg your pardon. sir. "The studies." Mr. The matron being out. crimson in the face with the exercise." he cried. Psmith waited patiently by.

sir. the distant hills----" Mr. that Mr."Whose is this?" he asked. sir?" said Psmith. sir." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. "This." said Psmith." "Ah! Thank you. "The trees. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. "No. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. And." said Mr. No. is it not. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. Smith?" "Jackson. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy. the field. sir. is mine and Jackson's. even in the dusk. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . sir. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. "Have you no bars to your windows here." "Never mind about his cricket. sir." "Not at all. Downing suddenly started. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. Downing with irritation." "I think. "A lovely view. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study. sir." Mr. putting up his eyeglass." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment. Smith. they go out extremely quickly. sir. The cricketer. sir. Smith." Mr." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. Downing pondered. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. rapping a door.

he was certain. sir? He has them on. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. If he had been wise. collects them. It was a fine performance. Downing looked up. Downing then. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. Downing knelt on the floor beside . "We have here." Mr. he would have achieved his object. trembling with excitement. But that there was something. I believe. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. he did not know. and bent once more to his task. Edmund." Mr. sir. "On the spot. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell his life. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. Mr. I noticed them as he went out just now. "go and bring that basket to me here. at early dawn. Smith?" "Not one." he said. and straightened out the damaged garment. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. prompting these manoeuvres." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. Mr. "Smith!" he said excitedly. Downing. he rushed straight on. "I should say at a venture. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. sir. Boots flew about the room. sir--no. sir. Downing stooped eagerly over it. As it was. sir." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself." "Smith. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. and dumped is down on the study floor. our genial knife-and-boot boy. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. "His boots. Psmith had noticed. Psmith leaned against the wall." said Psmith affably." said Mr." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. that they would be in the basket downstairs. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. Such a moment came to Mr. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. by a devious and snaky route. "a fair selection of our various bootings.

and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. rising. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. Smith. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. After a moment Psmith followed him. "That's the lot. Thither Mr. I shall take this with me. one puts two and two together. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. . on the following day. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake. "Yes." "Come with me. of course. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot." "Shall I put back that boot. "I think it would be best. Downing made his way. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. sir?" "Certainly not. sir?" Mr. He knew nothing. You can carry it back when you return. Downing had finished. understood what before had puzzled him." as he did so. sir. Psmith took the boot. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. It was "Brown. began to pick up the scattered footgear. Downing. and doing so. of course. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot." he said. rose to his feet. carrying a dirty boot. The headmaster was in his garden. sir." he said. Bridgnorth. The ex-Etonian." Mr." "Shall I carry it. Downing left the room. when Mr. Psmith looked at it again. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night. Downing reflected. "Ah. with an exclamation of triumph." he said. Leave the basket here. "No. "Put those back again.the basket. "Indeed?" he said. might be a trifle undignified. Smith. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. boot-maker." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. and when. and. then. In his hand he held a boot. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. At last he made a dive.

as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. "who was remarkably subject----" . You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. Just. Mr. putting on a pair of look at--This. "now let me so. Just Mr. Psmith. not uncommon. There was no paint on this boot."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. Downing. Of any suspicion of paint. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. this boot with exactly where Mr. red or otherwise. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. sir. But. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care.. Mr. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. These momentary optical delusions are. I saw it with my own eyes. you say. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. the cynosure of all eyes." said the headmaster. Downing." he said vehemently.. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. putting up his eyeglass. It was a broad splash right across the toe." The headmaster interposed. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. I brought it on purpose to show to you. I fancy. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. er." "This is foolery. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest. is the--? Just so. "You must have made a mistake. Smith." said Psmith chattily. Mr. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering.. Downing was the first to break the silence. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. sir. fixed stare. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. Smith will bear me out in this. "There was paint on this boot.

sir?" said Psmith. "You had better be careful. Downing." "Exactly. Mr." "It is undoubtedly black now. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. streaming in through the window. I can assure you that it does not brush off." "I am reading it. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness. Downing." said Psmith. Mr. if I may----?" "Certainly. "My theory."It is absurd. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. Smith?" "Did I speak. If Mr. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. sir. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. The goaded housemaster turned on him. "that is surely improbable. Smith. sir. Downing shortly." said the headmaster. he did not look long at the boot. really. at the moment." "You are very right. with simple dignity. "Well." said the headmaster." said Mr. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. sir. Shall I take the boot with me. "May I go now. sir. The afternoon sun. "for pleasure. sir. Downing. Smith. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. Smith. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. sir?" . is that Mr. The picture on the retina of the eye." "A sort of chameleon boot. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. consequently. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. Downing looked searchingly at him." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. I remember thinking myself. "My theory." murmured Psmith. I cannot have been mistaken." said Psmith with benevolent approval." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. "What did you say. Mr." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. Downing recollects." "Really. had not time to fade." said Psmith." "Yes.

Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. Outwood's at that moment saw what. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. and Mr. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. having included both masters in a kindly smile. and lock the cupboard. Downing appeared. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. Without brain. and the latter. Smith." said the housemaster. Put it away. hurried over to Outwood's. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. Downing was brisk and peremptory. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. every time. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. however. On this occasion. "Brain. "I wish to look at these boots again. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before." he said. he raced down the road. with a sigh. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. Psmith and Mike. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. "Sit down. where are we? In the soup. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. Psmith. if they had but known it. he. laid down his novel. Downing. and turning in at Outwood's gate. and rose to assist him. were friends." Psmith sat down again. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. sir?" "Yes. The possibility. left the garden. he reflected." he said. too. "Put that thing away. that ridiculous glass. Smith. "That thing. in fact the probability. Mr." . "I can manage without your help. On arriving at the study."If Mr. The scrutiny irritated Mr. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. was a most unusual sight. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. the spectacle of Psmith running." he said to himself approvingly.

pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. The floor could be acquitted. lodged another complaint. There was very little cover there. read if you like. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. Possibly an old note-book. and his chin on his hands. he stood up." "Thank you. He went through it twice. sir. but each time without success. Downing rapped the door irritably. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common." "I guessed that that was the reason." Mr." ." "Open it. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. "Yes. on sight. and looked wildly round the room. "Smith!" he said." "I think you will find that it is locked. who. sir." "I was interested in what you were doing. now thoroughly irritated. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. A ball of string. He rested his elbows on his knees. patiently."Why. His eye roamed about the room. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. sir?" "Yes. sir. Smith. sir." Psmith took up his book again. Nothing of value or interest. Downing. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. After the second search. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert. "Just a few odd trifles. "Don't sit there staring at me." "May I read. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. and Mr. sir. We do not often use it. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. "Yes. This cupboard. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. perhaps. of harbouring the quarry. after fidgeting for a few moments. sir?" asked Psmith." "Never mind.

"go and find Mr." Mr. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. Smith would be alone in the room. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. Outwood. and ask him to be good . perhaps----! On the other hand." he said. I am only the acting manager." Psmith got up. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. "I don't believe a word of it. to whom that cupboard happens to belong." "But where is the key. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. I shall break open the door. Outwood. amazed. And I know it's not Mr. Downing stared. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. He also reflected. sir. And he knew that. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. "Yes. staring into vacancy. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr." Mr. Downing paused. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. if Smith were left alone in the room. sir. you must get his permission. Mr. Outwood. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. Jackson might have taken it. Downing thought for a moment. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile."Unlock it. If you wish to break it open. sir. "Smith." he said shortly. But when it came to breaking up his furniture. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere." Mr. Smith?" he inquired acidly. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. sir. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. Then he was seized with a happy idea.

I would do the rest." he said. as who should say. as if he had been asked a conundrum. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. "If you will let me explain. sir. 'Mr. "on a technical point. and come back and say to me. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say. Smith. Downing's voice was steely. Mr." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly." he continued." he said. I would fly to do your bidding. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. 'Psmith. and explain to him how matters stand." Psmith still made no move. I ought to have remembered that before. Smith?" Mr. Outwood's house. "Thwarted to me face. If you pressed a button. "Do you intend to disobey me. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. "I take my stand. Smith." "What!" "Yes. One cannot. But in Mr. Outwood. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. sir. to take a parallel case. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. Mr. So in my case. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. "Go and find Mr. Outwood at once.enough to come here for a moment. If you will go to Mr. "Yes. "Let us be reasonable. "_Quick_. His manner was almost too respectful. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . I say to myself. who resumed the conversation. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good." "one cannot. ha. sir. however. your word would be law. Outwood. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr.

On a level with the sill the water-pipe. You see my difficulty. when it had stopped swinging. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. "Smith. Outwood with spirit. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. there will be a boot there when you return. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face." "I can assure you. Smith?" asked Mr. Placing this in the cupboard. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. I shall not tell you again. "Where have you been." why he should not do so if he wishes it." "My dear Outwood. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. at any rate. unlocked the cupboard." He took the key from his pocket. Downing was in the study. Then he turned to the boot. and thrust it up the chimney. he went to the window. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. He noticed with approval. "Yes. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot." snapped the sleuth. Smith. When he returned. Downing wishes me to do. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now." added Mr. He tied the other end of the string to this. Outwood. Downing sharply. Smith. Downing stalked out of the room. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. the latter looking dazed. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill." said Mr. and washed off the soot. Outwood. he re-locked the door. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. and let the boot swing free. up which Mike had started to climb the night before.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. "But. as the footsteps died away. He went there." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. and with him Mr." . The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. and. Outwood. A shower of soot fell into the grate. sir. "Very" "H'm!" said Mr. "I have been washing my hands. Mr. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. blackening his hand." added Psmith pensively to himself. Downing suspiciously." Mr. sir. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. and took out the boot. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece.

" said Psmith sympathetically." "So with your permission. "to be free from paint."Exactly. Now. The cupboard." said Psmith. Downing?" interrupted Mr. was open for all to view. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. my dear Outwood. Psmith'a expression said. Downing was examining his find. none at all." Mr. approvingly." he added helpfully. Downing seized one of these. He never used them. Last night a boy broke out of your house. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. "Objection? None at all." he said. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. Mr. round-eyed. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. Outwood. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. Then. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor. "I told you. Smith?" "I must have done. "This boot has no paint on it. belonging to Mike." "He painted--!" said Mr. glaring at Psmith. and tore the boot from its resting-place. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. if you look at it sideways. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. sir. Have you any objection?" Mr. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. At any rate. Outwood started. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. my dear fellow. "I told you. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment. "We must humour him. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. he did. "I've been looking for it for days. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. "Did you place that boot there. Outwood with asperity. "You have touched the spot. and painted my dog Sampson red. sir. Outwood." "It certainly appears. "Why?" "I don't know why. Mr." he said. with any skeletons it might contain. as plainly as if he had spoken the words." said Mr." said Psmith." "I wondered where that boot had got to. The wood splintered. "This is not the boot. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door." "If I must explain again. do you understand?" Mr. Let me see. Downing shortly. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This.

" said Psmith. A little more. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. He bent down to "Dear me." said Psmith patiently." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth. Outwood off his feet. Mr. Apply them. "Ah. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. baffled.") Mr. from earth to heaven. sir. after all. "Animal spirits. "We all make mistakes. Smith." he said. "Fun!" Mr. sir. Downing laughed grimly." argued Psmith. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there." "It's been great fun. and one could imagine him giving Mr." "No. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. once more. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. hard knock. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. Outwood had the grate. Smith. not to have given me all this trouble. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. You have done yourself no good by it. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept." Mr.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. Downing a good. It should have been done before. sir. but he ignored it. he used the sooty hand. nearly knocking Mr. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. "WHAT!" . Downing. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. He looked up. my dear Watson. though. You were not quite clever enough. sir. "I thought as much. and a thrill went through him. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze." he said." "You would have done better. SMITH?"] "Yes. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. Smith?" he asked slowly. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. Downing's eye. Unfortunately. and thrust an arm up into the unknown.

far from the madding crowd." he said. . though one can guess roughly. You are quite black. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. intervened. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. He went down beneath it. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. Smith. of course. It would take a lot of cleaning."Animal spirits. and hauled in the string. Downing had found the other. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. and it had cut into his afternoon. you present a most curious appearance. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. Mr. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. It was the knock-out. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. until he should have thought out a scheme. for the time being. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. Having restored the basket to its proper place. Really. You must come and wash it. It had been trying. at the back of the house. Edmund. accordingly. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. positively. as he had said. "your face. For. Mr." What Mr. the boot-boy. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. he took the count. just as he was opening his mouth. at about the same height where Mr. "My dear Downing. most. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. for a man of refinement. and sponges. quite covered. but on the whole it had been worth it. It is positively covered with soot. "I say you will hear more of it. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. Outwood. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. he went up to the study again. Psmith went to the window." said Psmith. It seemed to him that. His fears were realised. and it was improbable that Mr. The boot-cupboard was empty. Let me show you the way to my room. sir. "Soot!" "Your face is covered." Then he allowed Mr. sir. my dear fellow. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. he saw." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. * * * * * When they had gone. In the language of the Ring. soap. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels." he said. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. "You will hear more of this. worked in some mysterious cell." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect.

which one observes naturally and without thinking. and then said. Mr. "'Ere's one of 'em. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. if he does. sir. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. "Jones. Edmund. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand." replied Edmund to both questions. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn." "Well. "One? What's the good of that. So in the case of boots. should he prefer them. had no views on the subject. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. I can still understand sound reasoning. Boys say. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. some wag is sure either to stamp on the ." he said. But. he thought." as much as to say. Mr. It was not altogether forgetfulness. Psmith was no exception to the rule. for instance. he should not wear shoes. At a school. Jackson. There is no real reason why." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found. dash it. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. "I may have lost a boot. thank goodness. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. Edmund. I mean--Oh. the thing creates a perfect sensation. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. to be gained from telling Mike." Edmund turned this over in his mind. Jackson. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. There was nothing. "Great Scott. there's the bell. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. "Well. "No. but. if the day is fine. So Psmith kept his own counsel.

and the form. sir. called his name. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. Downing's lips. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. On one occasion. "I have lost one of my boots. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. and finally "That will do. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. looking on them.. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it.. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. was taken unawares. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. but they feel it in their bones." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . with a few It was only Mr. Satire. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. Jackson?" "Pumps. sir?" said Mike. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. Mike. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. But. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. They cannot see it. Downing who gave trouble. of a vivid crimson. He said "Yes. Downing. stiffening like a pointer. or else to pull one of them off. "Yes. leaning back against the next row of desks. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. to his growing surprise and satisfaction." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. he told him to start translating. Mr. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. he floundered hopelessly. yes. accordingly. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. turning to Stone. Then. sir. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. as he usually did. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes." mechanically. Mr. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. abuse. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. as worms. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. had regarded Mike with respect.. Stone. lines. and the subsequent proceedings.

and sped to the headmaster. As a rule. Until the sun has really got to work. that searching test of cricket keenness. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour." said Robinson. "It's all rot. Mike himself. "I don't intend to stick it.C. came to a momentous decision. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. Downing's mind was in a whirl. Rushing about on an empty stomach. it is no joke taking a high catch. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. in the cool morning air. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. "Wal. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice." . Mr. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. They played well enough when on the field. In view of the M. match on the Wednesday. said. Downing feel at that moment. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. he gathered up his gown. which nobody objects to. yawning and heavy-eyed.C. Mike's appearance in shoes. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided." "Personally. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling." said Stone. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. consequently. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. however." said Stone. with the explanation that he had lost a boot.returned. compared with Mike's." "I shouldn't wonder. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. and all that sort of thing. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. gnawing his bun. sir. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. and no strain. and the first American interviewer. I mean. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. His case was complete. to wit. jumping on board. completed the chain. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life.

you know. wherever and however made." Their position was a strong one." he said briskly. with a scratch team.C. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. Barnes was among those present. the keenness of those under him. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. consequently. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. are easily handled. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team." said Robinson. had no information to give. but in reality he has only one weapon. of course. then he finds himself in a difficult position. and the chance of making runs greater. Mr.C." And he passed on. what can he do. questioned on the subject. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. You were rotten to-day. found himself two short." "I mean. He can't play the M. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. it's such absolute rot. unless he is a man of action."Nor do I." At this moment Adair came into the shop. either. Downing. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. You two must buck up. The result of all this was that Adair. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school." "I don't think he will kick us out. Which was not a great help. "Rather. leaving the two malcontents speechless. At breakfast that morning thought. Stone was the first to recover. and. If he does." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. "Let's. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. With the majority." "Nor do I. Stone and Robinson felt secure. as they left the shop. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. Besides. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives. Taking it all round. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind. practically helpless. "He can do what he likes about it." "All right." "Yes. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay. And I don't mind that. Barnes." he said. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . who his right. he'd better find somebody else. The majority. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. after all? Only kick us out of the team. "at six.

Adair!" "Don't mention it. To-day. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. Many captains might have passed the thing over. not having seen the paper. "We didn't turn up. "Hullo. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. "You were rather fed-up. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. I suppose?" "That's just the word." he said. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. We didn't give it the chance to. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. He never shirked anything. "We decided not to. who. He resolved to interview the absentees. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. "Sorry. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal." said Stone. "I know you didn't. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. said nothing. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone." "Oh?" "Yes.daily paper before the bell rang. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. physical or moral." Robinson laughed appreciatively." "Sorry it bored you." "It didn't. who left the lead to Stone in all matters. however." Adair's manner became ominously calm. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. . Stone spoke.

" "What!" "Six sharp." said Stone. you can kick us out of the team." "Well. "You cad. "I was only thinking of something." "Good. "It's no good making a row about it. He was up again in a moment. with some haste. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort. I'll give you till five past six. All the same. So we're all right. Adair. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. but he said it without any deep conviction. "I wasn't ready. Robinson?" asked Adair. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you. you're going to to-morrow morning." "That's only your opinion. "There's no joke. but we don't care if you do." "You can turn out if you feel like it." said Adair quietly. You must see that you can't do anything. We've told you we aren't going to. Adair. Adair had pushed the table back." said Robinson. You won't find me there. Don't be late. as you seem to like lying in bed." "That'll be a disappointment. Shall we go on?" . you are now. Of course. "Right. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row." "You don't think there is? You may be right. Nor Robinson?" "No." said Stone. if you like." said the junior partner in the firm." Stone intervened. and knocked him down. We'll play for the school all right. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. and was standing in the middle of the open space." "I'll give you something else to think about soon."What's the joke. I think you are. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No." "Don't be an ass. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to.

" "Good. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair. "I'll turn up. He was not altogether a coward. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study." he said hastily." said Stone." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. "Thanks. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. "You don't happen to know if he's in. I don't know if he's still there.Stone dashed in without a word. "Thanks. but he was cooler and quicker. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. But science tells. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain. and he knew more about the game. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago." said Adair. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. "All right. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. "All right. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone." said Adair." Stone made no reply." said Adair." "I'll go and see. How about you. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. even in a confined space. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief.

There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. And it was at this point. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting." he said. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. Psmith was the first to speak. led by Mike's brother Reggie. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. was hard lines on Ripton. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. The M. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. everything had gone wrong. looking up from his paper. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. He's had a . The Incogs. fortunately. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. when his resentment was at its height. It might have made all the difference. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. was off. Since this calamity. * * * * * Psmith. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. the fast bowler. Mike mourned over his suffering school. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. This was one of them. If only he could have been there to help. Altogether.C. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. The Ripton match.. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. Which. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. and went on reading. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. said Strachan. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. "If you ask my candid opinion. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. entered the room.C. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. wrote Strachan. returned with a rush. A broken arm. In fact. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. In school cricket one good batsman. that Adair. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. which had been ebbing during the past few days. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer.on below stairs. including Dixon.

the Pride of the School. "It didn't last long. Despatch." said Adair. Adair. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. We must be strenuous. It won't take long. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. sitting before you. dark circles beneath my eyes. Oh. Promptitude." said Adair grimly." Mike got up out of his chair. "There are lines on my face. This is no time for loitering." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice." "That. too. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. He could not quite follow what all this was about." said Psmith.C. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. but it was pretty lively while it did. We must Do It Now. knave. Shakespeare. Adair was looking for trouble. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson. I'll none of thee.C.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight. "Surely. "I'll tell you in a minute. We----" "Buck up." said Psmith approvingly. is waiting there with a sandbag." he sighed. "Certainly. For some reason." . Speed is the key-note of the present age. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. The fact that the M. "is right. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. go thee. after a prolonged inspection. which might possibly be made dear later. I bet Long Jack." said Psmith." "Fate. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. "I'm not the man I was. Stone chucked it after the first round. I thought that you and he were like brothers. That is Comrade Jackson." said Mike." Psmith turned away. "We weren't exactly idle. We would brood. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. We must hustle. Care to see the paper. the poacher. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school." "What do you want?" said Mike." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour." he said. "has led your footsteps to the right place. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. Leave us." said Adair.

and I want you to get some practice. So is Robinson. isn't it?" "Very." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. stepped between them.C." Mike remained silent." "My eyes. Adair moved to meet him. "So are you. "I get thinner and thinner. rather. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. "I am. "are a bit close together. There was an electric silence in the study. turning from the glass." Mike took another step forward. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass." said Psmith regretfully.?" he asked curiously. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another. turning to Mike." "I don't think so. However. and Adair looked at Mike. Mike said nothing.C. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit. Mike looked at Adair. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. "Oh?" said Mike at last.said Adair. You aren't building on it much. "I'm going to make you." added Adair." he added philosophically." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. to-morrow.C. I know." Mike drew a step closer to Adair. so we argued it out. He's going to all right. . "it's too late to alter that now. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes. are you?" said Mike politely. He said he wouldn't. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed.C. "What makes you think I shall play against the M." replied Adair with equal courtesy. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think. and in that second Psmith.

and are consequently brief and furious. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. Up to the moment when "time" was called. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. . and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments." After which. It was this that saved Mike. Smith. If Adair had kept away and used his head. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. If you really feel that you want to scrap. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. where you can scrap all night if you want to. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. with a minute rest in between. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. But school fights. The latter was a clever boxer." said Mike." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. Time. "will be of three minutes' duration. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. one was probably warmly attached to him. "The rounds. I suppose you must. a mere unscientific scramble. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. hates the other. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. only a few yards down the road. nothing could have prevented him winning. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. Dramatically. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. then. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. what would have been. In a fight each party. one does not dislike one's opponent. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute." he said. without his guiding hand. Are you ready. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. Directly Psmith called "time. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. I lodge a protest." he said placidly. however much one may want to win. "My dear young friends."Get out of the light. producing a watch. On the present occasion. In a boxing competition. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. as a rule. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise.

Psmith saw. "Brief. so he hit out with all his strength. We may take that. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. coming forward. This finished Adair's chances." said Psmith. that there was something to be said for his point of view. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. He got up slowly and with difficulty. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. but Jackson. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. Jackson. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. do you think?" asked Mike. now rendered him reckless. however. was strange to him. I think. which would do him no earthly good. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. You go away and pick flowers. In the excitement of a fight--which is. he threw away his advantages. thirty seconds from the start. Then he lurched forward at Mike. and he was all but knocked out. The feat presented that interesting person. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. as anybody looking on would have seen.As it was. I shouldn't stop. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. If it's going to be continued in our next. I'll look after him. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. the deliverer of knock-out blows. Mike Jackson. and. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. He rose full of fight. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. and then Adair went down in a heap. Mike had the greater strength. if I were you. "but exciting. that Adair was done. At the same time. he knew. He went in at Mike with both hands. but with all the science knocked out of him. Mike could not see this. . The Irish blood in him. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring." "Is he hurt much." said Psmith. the cricketer. after all. There was a swift exchange of blows. "_He's_ all right. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions.

" said Mike indignantly. It's not a bad idea in its way. He's not a bad cove. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. why not?" . My eloquence convinced him. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. if possible. He had come to this conclusion. in fact.' game. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up.C. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. before. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. had the result which most fights have. It shook him up. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. not afraid of work. Jones. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. Where. to a certain extent.The fight. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. and drained the bad blood out of him. You didn't. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. to return to the point under discussion. after much earnest thought." said Mike. of course?" "Of course not. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. but every one to his taste. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it." continued Psmith. However." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. Psmith straightened his tie. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. "Look here. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons." "He's all right. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. There was a pause. when Psmith entered the study. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker." he said. "Sha'n't play. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more. We have been chatting. As a start. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words.C. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity.

" "No." said Psmith. breathing on a coat-button. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. And in time the thing becomes a habit." said Psmith. that I had found a haven of rest. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass." "Quite right. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. I did think. I hate to think. and after a while I gave up the struggle. bar rotting. when I came here. Comrade Jackson. where was I? Gone. But when the cricket season came. and polishing it with his handkerchief. "You're what? You?" "I." "You're rotting." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. However----" . into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. You said you only liked watching it. little by little. I fought against it. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night." said Psmith. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. Smith. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. _I_ am playing." "----Dismiss it. "my secret sorrow. Last year. and drifted with the stream. I turn out to-morrow. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered. "If your trouble is. I do. but it was useless. What Comrade Outwood will say. but look here. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike." "You wrong me. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket." Mike stared. but it was not to be." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock.

" he said. as the storm. "there won't be a match at all . Close the door gently after you." "I say. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house.C. and here was Psmith. He was not by nature intuitive. He's not playing against the M. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. Downing's and going to Adair's study. It's nothing bad. You won't have to. which had been gathering all day." On arriving at Mr. A moment later there was a continuous patter. therefore. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. I'll play. Psmith whimsically. wavering on the point of playing for the school.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. I'll write a note to Adair now. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. "if you're playing. Adair won't be there himself. Anyhow. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. Mike turned up his coat-collar. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. I'll go round. it went. "By Jove. Since the term began. A spot of rain fell on his hand. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do. broke in earnest.C. Here was he. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike." "Not a bad scheme. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. the recalcitrant. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player." he said to himself. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. and ran back to Outwood's. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. If Psmith. "At this rate." "That's all right. I don't know. And they had both worked it off. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. But. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide. Then in a flash Mike understood. but he read Psmith's mind now. He's sprained his wrist. but useless to anybody who values life. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow.

When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. though. "About nine to. if one didn't hurry." "I hate having to hurry over to school. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. yes." "Good. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. Mike." "Beastly nuisance when one does." "So do I. damp and depressed." "Oh." * * * * * When the weather decides. "It's only about ten to. We've got plenty of time. with discoloured buckskin boots." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school. ." Another silence. They walked on in silence." "Yes. after behaving well for some weeks." "Beastly. These moments are always difficult. So do I. "Right ho!" said Adair. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen. isn't it?" said Mike. and then the rain began again. I should think. met Adair at Downing's gate. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. it does the thing thoroughly. while figures in mackintoshes." "I often do cut it rather fine. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet. in the gentle." "Yes." "Yes. Three if one didn't hurry. shouldn't you?" "Not much more. Might be three. crawl miserably about the field in Adair fished out his watch. to show what it can do in another direction.

" Silence again. just before the match... Less." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself." "Yes." "Good." "Oh." "Rummy. Jolly hard luck.. no." "Yes. doesn't it?" "Rotten. I say." "Oh. we ought to have a jolly good season." "I bet you anything you like you would." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. "I say. that's all right. "I don't know. "awfully sorry about your wrist. no.. rot. "Five to." said Mike." "Oh. It looks pretty bad.. probably. with his height." "What's the time?" asked Mike." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year. thanks awfully for saying you'd play. that's all right." "Oh." "We've heaps of time.." "Now that you and Smith are going to play. scowling at his toes. thanks. rather not. Adair produced his watch once more. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully.. "Rotten.. no. I say.. It was only right at the end. rot. I should think he'd be a hot bowler." "Oh." "I bet you I shouldn't. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week. Smith turning out to be a cricketer."Beastly day." . You'd have smashed me anyhow." said Adair. It was my fault.

not playing myself." "It was rotten enough. heaps." "I didn't want to play myself. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say. It was only for a bit. no. rotten little hole. . he does so by belittling himself and his belongings." Adair shuffled awkwardly. fortunately." "Of course. "What rot!" he said. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. I wouldn't have done it. no. and blundered into a denunciation of the place." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. that's all right. as it were: for now. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness. So they ought to be." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. after the way you've sweated. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. "Yes. I know. He eluded the pitfall. and come to a small school like this." "Oh. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment. isn't it?" or words to that effect. even if he had." "He never even asked me to get him a place. Smith told me you couldn't have done. Everybody's as keen as blazes. Mike. on the Chinese principle." "No."Yes. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team. I know." "No. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. for the second time in two days. "I say." "Of course not. really.

"But I don't suppose I've done anything much. I got about half a pint down my neck just then." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. They began to laugh. "By jove. We'd better be moving on. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn."I've always been fairly keen on the place. Downing or a black-beetle." "What! They wouldn't play us." . It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. of anything like it. we'd walk into them. Hullo. I'm not sure that I care much. "_You_ were all right. they're worse." said Adair. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle. You've been sweating for years to get the match on." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. As you're crocked. "if that's any comfort to you. lot a really good hammering. "I can't have done. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. at the interval. There's quite decent batting all the way through. when you get to know him. I never thought of it before. there's the bell. I must have looked rotten.C. We've got math. If only we could have given this M. because I'm certain. now that you and Smith are turning out." "It might clear before eleven." he said. They'd simply laugh at you. I wish we could play. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. As for the schools. which won't hurt me. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. and hang about in case. and it would be rather rot playing it without you. who doesn't count. with a grin. then. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. and the bowling isn't so bad. We sha'n't get a game to-day. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. You'd better get changed. anyhow." "All right. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record. till the interval. I don't know which I'd least soon be. You see." Mike stopped." "He isn't a bad sort of chap." "I don't know that so much." "You've loosened one of my front teeth." said Mike. My jaw still aches. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. with you and Smith. Dash this rain. so I don't see anything of him all day. and really.C. we've got a jolly hot lot. I've never had the gloves on in my life.

was agitated. without looking up. if you like. After which the M. and went off. At least. Mr. with a message that Mr. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house. approaching Adair. Mike. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. they would.C. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness." Mike changed quickly. match was accordingly scratched. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. edge away. That's the worst of being popular. The two teams. M." said Psmith. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. it seemed. wandering back to the house."Yes.'" . A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return.C. I'm pretty sure they would. I had a letter from Strachan. "A nuisance. So they've got a vacant date. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. If he wants you to stop to tea.C. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. For the moment I am baffled. "By Jove. yesterday. he worked at it both in and out of school. and the first Sedleigh _v_. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. captain. You come and have a shot.C. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. "this incessant demand for you. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. Meanwhile. To which Adair. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. And they aren't strong this year. 'Psmith is baffled. the captain. Mike and Psmith. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. The whisper flies round the clubs. after hanging about dismally. The messenger did not know. Downing. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. had not confided in him. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. and would be glad if Mike would step across. We'll smash them." he said at last. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper." said Psmith. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. regretfully agreed. leaving Psmith.

" "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots. "Me. "I didn't. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut. ." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't." said Psmith. Give you a nice start in life. "No." "Evidence!" said Mike." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. by the way?" asked Psmith." "I know." said Mike shortly. dash it. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. pretty nearly. he's been crawling about." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened. He as good as asked me to."The man's an absolute drivelling ass. "Which it was. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right. "My dear man. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy." "_Did_ you. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. I believe he's off his nut. As far as I can see." "He thinks I did it." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. But. The thing's a stand-off." said Mike warmly. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. you know all about that. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did.

"What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. and it's nowhere about. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. and glared at it." said Psmith. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't.] "It's my boot!" he said at last." Psmith sighed." "It is true. so he thinks it's me. Get it over." said Psmith. Psmith listened attentively. meaning to save you unpleasantness. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. it was like this. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show. Of course I've got two pairs." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me. "It _is_. "Say on!" "Well. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him. In my simple zeal. with a dull. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint." "Yes.Why. and reach up the chimney. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it." said Mike. "Comrade Jackson." "I don't know what the game is. you were with him when he came and looked for them. It is red paint. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. . just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. Be a man. kneeling beside the fender and groping." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. 'tis not blood. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives." said Psmith. I have landed you. if any. That's how he spotted me. "your boot. but one's being soled. But what makes him think that the boot. It must have been the paint-pot." he said mournfully. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. and is hiding it somewhere. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. right in the cart. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. sickening thud. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER.

I say. If I can't produce this boot. then. I hadn't painted his bally dog." asked Psmith." "Possibly. he must take steps. and he said very well. You see. they're bound to guess why. and the chap who painted Sammy."This." he admitted. inspecting it with disfavour. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me. I hope you'll be able to think of something. and try to get something out of me. that was about all. This needs thought. you see. too. I can't. That was why I rang the alarm bell. I suppose not. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. Downing chased me that night. So. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. collecting a gang. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. You had better put the case in my hands." "Probably." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. I shall get landed both ways." . I _am_ in the cart. that he is now on the war-path." Psmith pondered. so to speak. or some rot. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers." "Well. you can't prove an alibi. are the same. when Mike had finished. "It _is_ a tightish place. taking it all round. in connection with this painful affair. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude." "_He'll_ want you to confess." he said. in a moment of absent-mindedness." "I suppose not. was it?" "Yes. and go out and watch the dandelions growing." "What exactly. which was me. Masters are all whales on confession. and--well. by any chance. I will think over the matter. too. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. "quite sufficient. The worst of it is. then. You never know. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing." said Psmith. "Not for a pretty considerable time. I take it." "Sufficient. and forgot all about it? No? No. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward." said Mike." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. and I said I didn't care.

" The emissary departed. "Don't go. "Oh. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. . "Well. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. at the same dignified rate of progress. Downing shortly.There was a tap at the door. he allowed Mike to go on his way." said Mr. Downing. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. when Psmith. You can't beat it." With which expert advice." He turned to the small boy. "Tell him to write. "Just you keep on saying you're all right. and. "An excellent likeness." Mike got up." said Psmith encouragingly. Jackson will be with him in a moment. wrapped in thought. it seemed. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith." "Ha!" said Mr. heaved himself up again. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. answered the invitation. Come in." he said. Thence. Simply stick to stout denial. when the housemaster came in. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting. "Is Mr. and requested to wait. sir. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage." "I told you so." said Psmith." said Psmith. The postman was at the door when he got there. Downing which hung on the wall. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you." said Psmith. caught sight of him. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. "_You're_ all right. who had just been told it was like his impudence. sir. Stout denial is the thing." said Mike to Psmith. Jackson. "All this is very trying. "See how we have trained them. "They now knock before entering. He was examining a portrait of Mr. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. who had leaned back in his chair. I say." A small boy." suggested Psmith. "that Mr. passed away. Smith. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. "Tell Willie. Don't go in for any airy explanations." he added. He was. He had not been gone two minutes.

As for Psmith . but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. As it happened. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. It was a kid's trick. Masters. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. Downing. as a rule. what it got was the dramatic interruption. It was a boy in the same house. Downing had laid before him." said Psmith. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. A voice without said." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. felt awkward. but anybody. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. would have thought it funny at first. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. as he sat and looked at Mike." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. except possibly the owner of the dog. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. Mr. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. and the headmaster. unsupported by any weighty evidence. "but----" "Not at all. "I would not have interrupted you. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. Downing to see you. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. Smith. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. but boys nearly always do. "Mr. "No. "I do not think you fully realise. especially if you really are innocent." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. do not realise this. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. Jackson. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. He could not believe it. who committed the--who painted my dog. sir. The atmosphere was heavy. The headmaster was just saying."I did it. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. After the first surprise. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused." said Mr. it was not Jackson. Downing. sir. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster.

If Psmith had painted Sammy. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. sir?" he said. "Oh. if you are going back to your house. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. Downing----" "It was Dunster. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment." He had reached the door. if possible. This was bound to mean the sack. looking at Mr. with calm triumph. Well. He sat there. when again there was a knock. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. or even thankful. sir." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight.having done it. "Yes. "May I go. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. Mr. what did you wish to say." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. Mike simply did not believe it." "Yes. as if he had been running. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. Adair. who was nodding from time to time. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. "Come in. sir. Adair. Downing. Mr." said the Head. "Smith!" said the headmaster. Downing was saying. Downing. sir. "Ah. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. and er--. "Certainly. "Adair!" . Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. no. It was Adair." said Mr. tell Smith that I should like to see him. Mike felt. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. So Mr. certainly. we know--. Downing leaped in his chair. sir. hardly listening to what Mr. Jackson." he said. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom." said the headmaster." "No.

but not particularly startling. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. had played a mean trick on him." Mr. was guiltless. And why. and he told me that Mr. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. He rolled about." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. sir. was curious. Downing at once. Downing's voice was thunderous. "Yes. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. It was a . I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. That Mike. Why Dunster. he remembered dizzily.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. sir." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. had left the school at Christmas. for a rag--for a joke. sir. despite the evidence against him. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. I tried to find Mr. of all people? Dunster. sir. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. Then I met Smith outside the house." "I see. "But Adair. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. if Dunster had really painted the dog. perhaps. that Psmith. He has left the school. the dog. but he wasn't in the house. "Yes. who. I'd better tell Mr. But that Adair should inform him. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. Well. Downing. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson." said the headmaster." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. sir. Downing snorted. sir." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. "Adair!" "Yes. two minutes after Mr. sir. His brain was swimming. Downing had gone over to see you. in the words of an American author." "Smith told you?" said Mr." "_Laughed!_" Mr. too. and that. sir. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. Downing. should be innocent. He stopped the night in the village. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. sir.

" "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog. "kindly go across to Mr. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men. though sure of his welcome. Downing. He arrived soon after Mr. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure." "Yes. as the butler appeared. I suppose." "The sergeant. Downing." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner. "It is still raining. The door was opened. Mr." he said." "In the hall!" "Yes. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. Smith. sir. Smith is waiting in the hall. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality." "Another freak of Dunster's. He gave the impression of one who." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience." said Mr. feels that some slight apology is expected from him. sir. sir?" "Sit down. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. sir." "Thank you. "You wished to see me. "Mr.foolish. sir. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. Ask him to step up. but." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. Barlow. It was not long. ." he observed. sir. but slightly deprecating. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. sir. discreditable thing to have done. Adair. Outwood's house. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation. If he did not do it." "H'm. He was cheerful. Barlow." said Mr." said the headmaster. the silence was quite solid. while it lasted. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. "I shall write to him. Smith. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs." said the headmaster. pressing a bell. saying that he would wait." "If you please.

He paused again. Smith--" began the headmaster. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. let us say. "Er--Smith. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson." he said. "Smith. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. sir. as a child. "It is remarkable." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. "Smith. do you remember ever having had. I do not for a moment wish to pain you." he replied sadly. "how frequently. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities." . there was silence. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. sir." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction. but have you--er.Mr. "Smith. when a murder has been committed. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. "Er--Smith. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. "The curse of the present age." "But. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. sir." "What!" cried the headmaster. sir. "I should like to see you alone for a moment. Mr. When he and Psmith were alone. "The craze for notoriety. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. Then he went on. Jackson. Downing burst out. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted." He made a motion towards the door. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No." "Yes." proceeded Psmith placidly.

of sometimes apt to forget. Good-night." He held out his hand. sir." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further." . "You _are_ the limit. at last. You are a curious boy. "By no means a bad old sort. but he said nothing. "Not a bad old sort. "Good-night. Smith. of course. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. sir----" Privately.." said the headmaster. sir. "It was a very wrong thing to do. "Well?" said Mike.. if you do not wish it. quite so. sir. the proper relations boy and--Well. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting." said Psmith. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr." said Adair. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves. never mind that for the present."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list. it was like this. For the moment. sir.. This is strictly between ourselves. then. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. "but. "Well." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know. "What's he done?" "Nothing." said the headmaster hurriedly. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. Downing's dog." "Well.." said Psmith meditatively to himself. I shall. as he walked downstairs." said Psmith cheerfully. sir. and then I tore myself away." There was a pause. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. That was the whole thing. Smith. Of course. You think. We later. Smith. let me hear what you wish to course. We had a very pleasant chat." said Psmith. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion. "Of course." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. Smith... tell nobody.

Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing. when you see him. "Good-night. Psmith thanked him courteously. "my very best love." Psmith moaned." said he. who had led on the first innings. I hope the dickens they'll do it. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is. "They've got a vacant date. you're a marvel. You make me writhe. all the same. "And it was jolly good of you. Psmith. They walked on towards the houses. for it was a one day match. too. and Wrykyn. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. I believe you did. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's. and things were going badly for Sedleigh. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over." "Well. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson." said Mike obstinately. "you wrong me." "Oh. I should think they're certain to. There is a certain type of ." said Mike. "My dear Comrade Jackson." "And give Comrade Downing." "What's that?" asked Psmith. Adair. chuck it. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_." * * * * * "I say. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh." said Mike." said Psmith." Psmith's expression was one of pain." said Mike suddenly. "By the way." "Well. and that Sedleigh had lost. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game. In a way one might have said that the game was over. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner. had only to play out time to make the game theirs. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. I'm surprised at you." said Adair." said Adair. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won.

and . going in first with Barnes and taking first over. Experience counts enormously in school matches. so Adair had chosen to bat first. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. the Wrykyn slow bowler. and. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. a collapse almost invariably ensues. several of them.C. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. Wrykyn had then gone in. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. and the others. as a rule. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. and he used it. and he had fallen after hitting one four. whatever might happen to the others. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. Unless the first pair make a really good start. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. on Mike's authority. for seventy-nine. this in itself was a calamity. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. crawled to the wickets. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. had played inside one from Bruce. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. Psmith. Robinson. He had had no choice but to take first innings. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. and were clean bowled. declined to hit out at anything. Adair did not suffer from panic. the bulwark of the side. He had an enormous reach. Stone. but were not comforted. Whereas Wrykyn. Mike. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. Sedleigh had never been proved. assisted by Barnes. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. Ten minutes later the innings was over.C. The team listened. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. Sedleigh. and from whom. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. It was likely to get worse during the day. with Barnes not out sixteen. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. reached such a high standard that this probably meant batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. but then Wrykyn cricket. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. with his score at thirty-five. from time immemorial. The weather had been bad for the last week. with the exception of Adair. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. It was useless for Adair to tell them. as he did repeatedly. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. and Mike. that Wrykyn were weak this season. the team had been all on the jump. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. July the twentieth. playing back to half-volleys. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary.

it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. and he was convinced that. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. helped by the wicket. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. who had taken six wickets. they felt. They were playing all the good balls. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. was getting too dangerous. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. It doesn't help my . and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. As Mike reached the pavilion. who had just reached his fifty. Changes of bowling had been tried. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. A quarter past six struck. had never been easy. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. The time was twenty-five past five. and after him Robinson and the rest. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. at fifteen. and the collapse ceased. at any rate. their nervousness had vanished. Adair declared the innings closed. The deficit had been wiped off. proceeded to play with caution. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. and lashed out stoutly. as they were crossing over. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. with an hour all but five minutes to go. having another knock.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. but it was a comfort. skied one to Strachan at cover. But Adair and Psmith. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. if they could knock Bruce off. and refused to hit at the bad. his slows playing havoc with the tail. He treated all the bowlers alike. But. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. And they had hit. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. Psmith got the next man stumped. restored to his proper frame of mind. and which he hit into the pavilion. when Psmith was bowled. As is usual at this stage of a match. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. the next pair. So Drummond and Rigby. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. And when. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. Seventeen for three. Adair bowled him. all but a dozen runs. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. which was Psmith's. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. especially Psmith. And when Stone came in. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. two runs later. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs.

" said Psmith. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. is to get the thing started. Adair's a jolly good sort. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. Five minutes before. you see. Still. "he was going about in a sort of trance. and it'll make him happy for weeks. and the tail. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. The next man seemed to take an age coming out." "I suppose they will. I'm glad we won. Wrykyn will swamp them. hitting out. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. got to it as he was falling. The batsman. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. diving to the right. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. There were twenty-five minutes to go. "Still. After that the thing was a walk-over. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. and five wickets were down. discussing things in general and the game in particular. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. when Adair took the ball from him. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. I shall have left. Adair will have left. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. As a matter of fact. he's satisfied. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. playing against Wrykyn. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left." said Psmith. Incidentally. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. because they won't hit at them.leg-breaks a bit. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game." "He bowled awfully well. collapsed uncompromisingly." "Yes. "I feel like a beastly renegade. and chucked it up. That's what Adair was so keen on. Sedleigh was on top again. the great thing. They can get on fixtures with decent . "I say. demoralised by the sudden change in the game." "When I last saw Comrade Adair. and Mike. was a shade too soon." said Mike." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl.

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